Trivia: Back to the Future

Works with their own pages:

In General

  • Acting for Two: Michael J. Fox plays Marty, his older self in 2015, his children Marty Jr. and Marlene (yes, the daughter), and Seamus in 1885.
    • Christopher Lloyd shares a scene in Part II with himself as Doc meets his 1955 self.
    • Thomas F. Wilson plays 1955 Biff Tannen, 1985 Biff (three versions, no less: the Jerk Ass from the beginning of Part I, the wimpy version from the end of parts I and III and beginning of Part II, and the Jerk Ass In Chief from the 1985-A universe in Part II), 2015 Biff and his grandson Griff, and Buford "Mad-Dog" Tannen in 1885.
    • Elisabeth Shue plays Jennifer's younger and older self at the same time in Part II.
  • Dawson Casting: Marty, Lorraine, George, Biff, Jennifer, etc. Makes some sense in Lorraine, George, and Biff's cases, since in the first movie they had to play both their teenage selves and their adult selves. Initially, not so much the case with Jennifer, who was played by 19-year old Claudia Wells in the first film, but then played by 26-year old Elizabeth Shue in the Sequels and that wig she wore to make her resemble Lea Thompson made her look every bit her age.
  • Disowned Adaptation: Bob Gale hated many of the video game adaptations of the franchise, particularly the first one by LJN Toys. According to him, the makers of the game didn't want any input from the filmmakers, and when he saw it, he wanted a lot changed, but was told it was too late to do anything. He advised fans not to buy it, and felt that Telltale Games handled the process much better.
  • Executive Meddling: Basically, this is the whole reason why the sequels exist in the first place — but Sid Sheinberg had insisted on certain changes to be made in the first movie.
    • One of Sid Sheinberg's changes, from "Professor Brown" to "Doc Brown" has become integral in Back to the Future culture. (Just how much so is suggested by Michael J. Fox's repeated bloopers in filming The Frighteners: he called the Judge character "Doc".)
    • Cost considerations forced a complete change in the tactic to return to 1985 in Part I, from powered by a nuclear test explosion to powered by the lightning bolt. By all accounts, it was a major improvement.
  • I Am Not Spock: Actor Thomas F. Wilson (Biff). He even wrote a song about it.
    • He also started carrying small laminated cards he'd hand out to fans he'd run into, featuring answers to the most frequent questions he's asked about the movies.
  • Fake American: Marty McFly — Michael J. Fox is in fact Canadian.
  • Hey, It's That Place!: Courthouse Square, on the Universal Backlot, has been in dozens of productions. Tragically, it perished in the backlot fire of 2008.
  • Mean Character Nice Actor: The actor of Biff Tannen, Thomas F. Wilson, is a painter and a comedian, very approachable to fans and likes to joke about the questions he's getting regarding his role as Biff. He's also Happily Married with four children.
  • One Steve Limit:
  • The Other Darrin: Elisabeth Shue replaced Claudia Wells as Jennifer Parker in the sequels. Likewise, Jeffrey Weissman replaced Crispin Glover as George McFly.
  • The Red Stapler: The DeLorean. At the time the movie came out the Delorean Motor Company had been bankrupt for almost 3 years and DeLoreans were considered a failed car. Nowadays there's an active "time machine conversion" community, DeLorean dealers, and DeLorean conventions — all because of Back to the Future. There's apparently even a company in Texas that bought the rights to the design and is making new DeLoreans.
  • Scully Box: Because Christopher Lloyd is 6'1", much taller than the 5'4" Michael J. Fox, camera tricks were used to avoid using one. For example, the two are rarely in the same shot together and, when they are, one is usually sitting down or much closer to the camera than the other. When Doc Brown is talking, he's often moving around so much that the viewer can't really tell how tall he is. Lloyd also improvised a hunch in his posture that helped give the character more of a Mad Scientist look.
  • Star-Making Role: For Michael J. Fox.
  • Trope Namer: These movies named the following tropes:
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The 1985 scenes, by being so current at the time of filming, falls headlong into this.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: Once real-life history got into the decade of the 2010s, pretty much every year there would be a picture claiming that that day was the day Marty went to when he went to the future (with the date being photoshopped to the current date). It's easy to tell the fakes, since the real years in the movies all end in 5. Only time will tell if these fakes will stop being made after the real date passes.

The first movie

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Ronald Reagan was a big fan of the film, and especially loved the scene where Doc sneers at the idea of an actor being President.
  • AFIS 10 Top 10:
    • #10, Science Fiction
  • The Cast Showoff: Kind of. Although Michael J. Fox is miming his performance of "Johnny B. Goode" he did actually learn to play the song (having played guitar in high school) so he could do so accurately.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Wonder why George had peanut brittle for dinner in 1985? Originally, after meeting with Biff, Marty tries to urge George to stand up for himself when a child selling peanut brittle shows up. Instead, he caves, buying all of it, with the child's father saying "See, I told you we'd only have to stop at one house."
    • After the "Mister Sandman" Sequence, Marty asks a woman to pinch him to see if he's dreaming.
    • The 1955 Doc looks at the contents of his 1985 counterpart's suitcase, which include a Playboy magazine and the hair dryer Marty takes with him while playing "Darth Vader".
    • In 1955, before Doc gets introduced to George, Doc and Marty see Lorraine cheating on a quiz in class, surprising Marty.
    • The Darth Vader scene was longer, with more sci-fi references, such as Marty telling George "You are entering The Outer Limits of The Twilight Zone!", ending with Marty knocking George out with chloroform, explaining how George overslept and missed school. It got cut because it lasted too long and was redundant.
    • While discussing their plan, Marty tries to get George to hit him as practice.
    • Just when Marty leaves for the dance, Doc gets asked for a permit for his "weather experiment", and Doc gets it: a $50 bill, quite a bit of money back then. Also, Marty worries about his plan, asking "What if I go back to the future and I'm gay?", to which Doc says "Why shouldn't you be happy?"
    • George, realizing he's late during the dance, goes into a phone booth to confirm the time, but Dixon, the bully who'd kicked George and later cuts in on him and Lorraine, traps him inside, with Strickland chastising him.
  • Dummied Out: The scene where Marty, dressed in the hazmat suit as "Darth Vader", threatens George into taking Lorraine out to the dance was originally much longer. However, it was cut when the director realized that, since, in the next scene, George tells Marty what "Darth Vader" told him, it really just goes over the same information again.
    • The whole scene be found on Blu-ray and DVD releases, as well as here.
  • Foreshadowing: If one is fast enough, you can see Future-Doc (with the hat and bike) from Part II, leaving the town square as Doc is setting up the "specialized weather-sensing equipment."
    • Word of God is that it was coincidental — just a random detail added to the scene. Also, Doc departs in the opposite direction in Part II.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • The head judge of the band contest is Huey Lewis (of Huey Lewis and the News), who also made the series theme songs Back in Time and The Power of Love (which Marty and his band are playing for the contest).
    • Cal is one of Biff's mooks in 1955!
    • Marty's brother is Jimmy Olsen!
  • Non-Singing Voice: Michael J. Fox did not sing "Johnny B. Goode", although he did learn to play it so he could "mime" the guitar.
  • The Other Marty: The Trope Namer. Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty, and filmed some scenes, before being replaced by Michael J. Fox. You'll get to see some Stoltz footage in the Blu-Ray release of the Back to the Future trilogy.
  • Throw It In: Many of George McFly's mannerisms (the shaking hands, the infamous Honeymooner's laugh) were ad libbed by Crispin Glover.
    • Huey Lewis improvised the line "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud", as the silly excuse for Marty's band to be rejected.
    • During the "Mister Sandman" Sequence, when Marty sees the 1955 Texaco gas station, there was originally only one attendant working on a car, but Robert Zemeckis had the costume department find 3 more attendant costumes, believing it'd be funnier.
    • According to Bob Gale, Red (the homeless guy)'s name was ad-libbed by Michael J. Fox.
  • Troubled Production: Everyone involved in the first film was sure it would bomb because absolutely nothing went smoothly. (Among the crew, it was nicknamed The Film That Would Not Wrap.) The shoot nearly drove Zemeckis insane, ruined his health, and threatened to wreck his career if the film wasn't a hit. Star Michael J. Fox was running on fumes, commuting between the BttF and Family Ties sets with virtually no sleep in-between. In his interview on Inside the Actor's Studio, he notes that he was basically a zombie, which luckily enhanced his acting a fair bit.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The Bobs (Zemeckis and Gale) originally pitched the idea to Disney and then Columbia, both of whom turned it down due to problems with the "kid dating his young mother" part of the story, albeit for completely opposite reasons: Disney felt that it was too raunchy, Columbia didn't think it was raunchy enough!
    • The original time machine was a modified refrigerator, changed because it would have been a very stationary prop and Steven Spielberg had images of children locking themselves in the fridge to the horror of their parents. They also would have driven into the blast of a nuclear bomb to fuel the flux capacitor, changed because that alone would have doubled the production costs and the clock tower lightning strike made a fairly simple and stationary location. In the script written for this kind of time machine, the original timeline's Biff became a cop that kept "borrowing" stuff from George and had a daughter. With the change in the timeline, Biff became a security guard working for George, who became a boxing champion in that script.
      • For younger readers who don't understand how someone could become trapped in a refrigerator, they used to be held closed with a physical catch that could only be opened by a handle on the outside, and these older models were still somewhat plentiful at the time of the film. Modern ones all use magnets to hold themselves closed, with no catches.
    • Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty; apparently only stills and a few clips exist of his work on the movie except for one scene that made it into the final cut — Stoltz running away from the terrorist van, entirely covered in a radiation suit. When initially casting Marty, the producers narrowed it down to two choices: Stoltz and C. Thomas Howell. Michael J. Fox was always their first choice, but the producer of Family Ties initially didn't want Fox gone from the show during Meredith Baxter's pregnancy. Zemeckis and Gale preferred Howell, but the executives preferred Stoltz, so Stoltz was cast. However, the execs told the Bobs that if Stoltz didn't work out, then they could go back and reshoot with another actor. Except no-one expected it to actually happen...
    • Also, John Lithgow was considered for the part of Doc Brown. In fact, Lloyd was ready to pass on the film, but his wife insisted the script was better than it looked.
    • Jeff Goldblum was another consideration for the role of Doc Brown.
    • Melora Hardin (who would later play Jan on The Office (US)) was originally cast as Jennifer to play opposite Eric Stoltz's Marty. However, Melora never filmed any scenes, and was fired after Marty was recast because she was a lot taller than Michael J. Fox, which actually alienated many of the female crew members, while the male crew members had no problem with it, whatsoever.
    • The producers considered using "Papa Loves Mambo" by Perry Como when Marty arrives in the 1955 Hill Valley, before deciding on "Mister Sandman", thereby making it the "Mister Sandman" Sequence. "Papa Loves Mambo" would however show up in Part II where it's the song playing on the car radio as Biff drives to the dance.

The animated series:

The video game:

  • Actor Allusion: In Episode 3, Marty's brother, David, is said to be working for a newspaper in a big city and his sister, Linda, is said to be in a womens' boarding house. Marc McClure played Marty's brother in the movies, and also played Jimmy Olsen in Superman. Wendie Jo Sperber co-starred in Bosom Buddies, set in an woman-only hotel. As an added bonus, both actors played these roles before the first movie came out.
    • Young Emmett says his flying car idea will make traffic jams a thing of the past, which is the same thing Judge Doom - another character played by Christopher Lloyd - said about his freeway idea.
  • Development Gag: Not a gag relating to the development of the game, but to Back to the Future Part III. In Episode 1, Marty can find an old photograph of Marshall Strickland in Edna Strickland's home. Edna states that he had been shot and killed by Buford Tannen. Marty (who, of course, had been to 1885 when Strickland was alive and who was instrumental in Buford being sent to prison) states that he doesn't remember that occurrence. While there's an in-story reason for this (he wasn't there when it happened nor informed of the events), the joke is actually a meta-joke about how the scene depicting Strickland's death was cut from the film.
    • Episode 1 references a gag from the aborted Number Two script, wherein Marty is arrested, and chooses the alias "Marty DeLorean" to get Doc's attention through the newspapers. In the video game, however, it's the other way around: Doc is arrested, and chooses the alias "Carl Sagan" to get Marty's attention through the newspapers.
    • In Episode 3, George has a box of peanut brittle on his desk by the monitors. This refers to a deleted scene in the original Back To the Future where George displays what a wimp he is by being bullied into buying tons of peanut brittle. The only remnant of this in the final film is a shot of him pouring some into a bowl.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
    • Emmett's father in Episode 1 is Winslow! He's also Generic Guy, Hostile Guy, and (I think) Cue Ball. So Winslow was at the speakeasy three times... simultaneously. That's time travel for you!
    • Young Emmett himself is Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as Tidus.
    • Jennifer is voiced by her original actress, Claudia Wells.
    • Michael J. Fox finally comes back for a special guest role in Episode 5. First as a McFly ancestor in 1931... then as three different future versions of Marty before the credits.
  • Orphaned Reference: The names of Marty's grandparents are lifted from early versions of the script for the original film and the novelization.
  • Talking to Himself: AJ LoCascio plays both Marty and Alt-1986!Jennifer's scumbag boyfriend in Episode 3.
  • What Could Have Been
    • The story of the game is based on the unfinished fourth movie script; and expanded on a fair bit. According to Telltale Games they revived the script, expanded it, and apparently had enough to actually fill up a fifth movie by Episode 4 & 5!
    • Biff's daughter Tiff was originally going to appear in Episode 3, but with Punk Jennifer there it was decided she was redundant. There is artwork of her here.
    • There were plans to give Doc and Edna a kid, but they decided against it, due to the ethical ramifications of erasing a person from the timestream.

The Pinball Table:

  • The Other Darrin:
    • Michael J. Fox did not allow his likeness for the game. Instead, artist Paul Faris' son plays Marty on the playfield and the backglass.
    • Similarly, it's unclear who voiced "Marty", but everyone agrees the voice doesn't even come close to sounding like Michael J. Fox.