YMMV / Back to the Future

Works in this franchise with their own pages:

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  • Ascended Fanon: IDW's comic confirms Cracked's theory that Doc burned his house down for insurance money.
  • Crazy Awesome: None other than Doc Brown.
  • Ear Worm: Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time" are hard to forget.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: "CPR Guy" from Part II. And for a short time in the fandom, the scarecrow that Marty runs over in Part I.
    • Red the bum, who calls Marty a "crazy drunk driver" upon his return to 1985 in Part I, and a "crazy drunk pedestrian" in 1985-A in Part II.
  • Fan Community Nickname: Backies.
  • First Installment Wins: The first is iconic. The second and third are good, but definitely not remembered like number one.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg's first concept for the time machine was not a DeLorean. Originally, the idea was that it would be a highly-scientific laser array that sent Marty back to the past. To get him back to the future, Doc Brown originally was going to put him in a refrigerator during an A-Bomb test. Spielberg vetoed the concept back then out of fear that kids would climb into abandoned refrigerators and become trapped, not to mention it was incredibly expensive. A couple of decades later, however...
    • Also, Marty helps his parents realize their love for each other and get together while they were still teenagers, while they have no idea who he is, which leads to them naming him after himself. This wouldn't be the last time this happened. Timey-Wimey Ball indeed.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Flea as Needles in the sequels.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:
    • Played straight by the infamously awful games released for the NES and Genesis note . Averted by the Telltale game and Super Back to the Future Part II for the Super Famicom, which sadly was only released in Japan.
    • The LEGO Dimensions Back to the Future Level Pack's Story Mode has received complaints of It's Short, so It Sucks, consisting only of four areasnote  that take 30 minutes to run through. Mitigated by the automatic addition of Marty McFly (who can use his guitar to break open certain boxes and doors with SONAR waves), the DeLorean, and the Hoverboard to the player's party, and the ability to freely explore Hill Valley's town square in 1985, 2015, and 1885.note 
  • Rewatch Bonus: Parts II and III make greater sense when watched back-to-back, as you'll see signs of Foreshadowing and other details between the two parts. For instance, as Doc and Marty discuss their plan at the train station, you'll see that Clara Clayton was standing in the background waiting for someone to pick her up.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The "Don't let your pride get the best of you" aesop they drill into your head in Parts 2 and 3. It's Anvilicious, but it is surprising how many people actually do put themselves into situations just to prove themselves to others.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Jennifer in the sequels. It's unfortunate that the writers saw her only as The Load, depriving her of some Character Development.
  • Vindicated by History: The sheer number of jokes about the approach and arrival of the year 2015 has definitely increased the notability of Part 2. This leaves Part 3 as the only one that isn't really iconic.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Remember the joy of watching these films when you were a kid? Remember the scene where the second lead is gunned down by Libyan terrorists? They sure don't make 'em like they used to. On the other hand, when Marty found himself in 1955, he made it a point to try and save Doc from his future fate... and succeeds; it was more of an extremely delayed Disney Death. There's also Marty's plan to get George and Lorraine together at the dance involved him faking a rape attempt on his own mother, which was then broken up by a real rape attempt from Biff. It is generally believed that the movie most definitely would've received a PG-13 rating had it been released today, much like another Zemeckis film that came out later in the decade.
    "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit!"
    • The first sequel isn't much better, starting with a Groin Attack on Marty Junior. Of course, the cherry on top is the alternate 1985 where Biff is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who murdered George in cold blood, forced Lorraine into marriage and breast implants, sits in a jacuzzi with naked women, and has turned Hill Valley into a hellhole.
    • Part III has Buford hanging Marty, threatening Clara with rape, and attempting a slow death by bullet on Doc. Plus there's Doc's (implied) one night stand with Clara.
    • Amusingly, this trope was why Disney turned down the first film, as they thought it was too raunchy, whereas many other studios thought it wasn't raunchy enough (this was the era of teen sex comedies like Porky's and Revenge of the Nerds).

    Part I 
  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The Libyans. (With a bit of Ripped from the Headlines - Gaddafi was trying to acquire a nuclear weapon at the time.)
  • Angst? What Angst?: Marty's mother pretty much shrugs off her Attempted Rape, and the fact that the man who attempted to rape her is working for the family thirty years later doesn't seem to cause her any noticeable distress.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Lucky for Marty, Doc apparently hasn't gotten around to seeing what's become of his amplifier after Marty blows it out at the start of the first film (if he did, what happened with the Delorean likely made that meaningless).
  • Broken Base: Some fans take issue with the ending playing up the family's new possessions too much, saying it gives a very materialistic message.
  • Covered Up: Many younger people are first exposed to "Johnny B. Goode" and "Earth Angel" through this movie, unaware of the originals.
  • Ending Fatigue: The film appears as if it is going to end at least twice before it actually does...
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The first film also clearly sends the message that violence not only solves problems, but the ability to physically threaten others is directly related to social standing.
    • In high school, the second half of that (at least) is Truth in Television. It was true in 1885, 1955, 1985, and it is today.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Before he was going to travel 25 years into the future by himself, Doc mentions that he'd get to find out who'd win the next 25 World Series. Then in Part II, we see the horrific results of someone using future sports knowledge, as Biff becomes a Corrupt Corporate Executive who turns Hill Valley into a nightmarish Dystopia. Plus, going ahead 25 years would put him smack in the middle of the US recession. Not exactly a time to visit to give you optimism for the future.
    • The use of Middle Eastern terrorists as non-serious, throwaway villains in a family movie. Doesn't seem so innocent now, does it?
  • Genius Bonus: Biff's goons are very intimidated by the Starlighters, saying "We don't want to mess with no reefer addicts." To many viewers, knowing that marijuana is not addictive and does not cause violent behavior, this may make them seem like cowards. Those familiar with the time period, though, will know that it was the era of Reefer Madness and the goons had just bought into the propaganda. May double as a Parental Bonus.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The angry Libyan terrorists shooting Doc Brown are less funny after the West Berlin disco bombing of 1986 and the bombing of Pan-Am flight 103 in 1989, both committed directly by or on orders of the Libyan government.
    • At the start of the movie, a newspaper clipping is visible indicating that Doc Brown's mansion from the 50's burned down and he wound up selling the land to developers. In 2008, Christopher Lloyd's home in California, which he was selling at the time, burned down in the Tea Fire.
    • In the first draft of the script, there was a scene with a nuclear blast and a refrigerator, but Steven Spielberg demanded it to be rewritten because it made no sense. Fast forward to Spielbergs Indiana Jones 4 and a certain infamous scene involving a refrigerator.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: "Gimme a Pepsi Free." That whole exchange is also a good example of Who's on First?.
    • In the "Making Of" documentary, Michael J. Fox expresses interest in travelling back in time to become a cowboy. Then, in Part III, he really does. He even lampshades this in the behind-the-scenes special for Part III.
    • Doc says his DeLorean is electrically powered. Fast forward to October 2011 when the DeLorean Motor Company announces the DMCEV which actually is electrically powered. It runs on batteries instead of a 1.21GW nuclear reactor, though.
    • The shopping mall in pre-time travel 1985 is named the Twin Pines Mall.
    • One movie BTTF beat at the box office was Clint Eastwood's Pale Rider. In Back to the Future Part III, the 1885 Hill Valley was shot at the same location used for Pale Rider and has Marty use the alias "Clint Eastwood".
    • Originally, Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty, while Jeff Goldblum was considered for the role of Doc Brown in the first film. In the following year, Goldblum had an iconic eccentric scientist role of his own named Seth Brundle in The Fly (1986), which spawned a sequel The Fly II which starred Stoltz as Seth's son Martin Brundle.
    • In the film, Doc Brown saw a copy of Playboy from the future. In October 1985, one of the people in that month's issue was John DeLorean.
  • Hollywood Homely: Marty's older sister Linda in the original 1985. Though not a model by any means, she's relatively cute and certainly not somebody you'd expect to have too much trouble finding a boyfriend.
  • Idiot Plot: Several things that happen in this movie can be chalked up to foolish decisions by panicky individuals.
    • When Doc sees the terrorists approaching, his first inclination is to fight back with an old pistol, instead of grabbing the plutonium, jumping into the DeLorean with Marty and Einie, and time travelling to somewhere in the immediate past or future.
    • Marty freaks out George by impulsively staring at him and then following him, instead of simply seeking out 1955!Doc and getting the whole mess straightened out.
    • Marty has just heard his parents' story of how they first met (he maybe heard it about five or six hours beforehand if you go by his own personal timeline), yet he deliberately interferes when he sees Sam Baines' car bearing down on George.
    • Then there's the plot about making George seem heroic, which was extremely misguided on Marty's part. Why not just start an arguement with Lorraine, or insult her or something? Why go with forcing yourself on her?
    • Thankfully averted by Doc, who changes his mind and decides to tape together the warning that Marty was hellbent on giving him.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Dixon steals Lorraine from George at the dance and George starts to walk away. Unfortunately for Marty, this causes him to start fading out of existence. Luckily, George returns, shoves Dixon to the floor and kisses Lorraine, ensuring the timeline is fixed and also ensuring the existence of Dave, Linda and Marty.
    • Marty tries to send himself back to the future early enough to warn Doc he will be shot by the Libyans. When he gets there, the DeLorean stalls on him and he has to make the journey to the mall on foot. He gets there moments too late and Doc is shot and seemingly killed again. But, as it turns out, Doc came prepared by wearing a bullet-proof vest, having taped Marty's letter back together.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • ONE POINT TWENTY-ONE GIGAWATTS!? (a reference to the amount of energy needed to power the Flux Capacitor the time travel)
    • What the hell's a gigawatt?! (a reference to Marty's ignorance of what a gigawatt actually is)
    • November 12, 1955. NEVER FORGET.
    • "It's your cousin Marvin Berry!"
    • "Great Scott!" (This is usually what Doc says when he sees something surprising).
      • Become "Nom de Zeus!" (literraly "Zeus' name" but more akin to "Zeus dammit") in the French version.
    • "Roads? Where we're going, we won't need roads." (Doc's closing line from the first film)
    • Oh my God ! They found me. I don't know how but they found me. RUN FOR IT MARTY !!!
  • Moral Event Horizon: Biff crossed it when he tried to rape Lorraine in 1955 and then attempting to break George's arm when he tries to intervene.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: George ordering a milk. Chocolate.
  • Narm Charm: Okay so Marty almost fading has some bad green-screening, but it's still tense and terrifying to see him almost fade out of existence.
  • Sacred Cow: Regardless of people's opinions of the later movies, the first is widely regarded as one of the best time travel movies of all time.
    • Turns out, the image of the future Part II portrays stuck around in everyone's minds. The real-life 10/21/2015 ended up being something of a celebration of the series and The Future.
  • Sleeper Hit: No one expected the movie to become as big as it did. Robert Zemeckis openly admitted he was just hoping it would break even and the final bit with the Delorean flying and "something's got to be done about your kids!" was meant as a joke on Marty having just changed the past for his parents. Michael J. Fox recalled his agent telling him that the movie was a hit and he was pleased, but the agent had to reiterate that it was a BIG hit.
  • Special Effect Failure: The Bobs were never thrilled with the effect used to show Marty's hand fading from existence.
    • Also, the green-screen shots of the flame trails not burning Doc and Marty are pretty obvious nowadays.
  • Squick: Behind the scenes: the idea that every studio except Fox and Disney thought that this film, which features a boy's mother falling in love with her son, was not risque enough.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Barely, since it relies on a coincidence Strickland couldn't have known about. He might be something of a jerkass to Marty at the beginning of the film when claiming he's a slacker who'll never amount to anything, but he is right that Doc Brown is dangerous, in a way - given he's not only willing to perform risky and highly illegal time travel experiments powered by stolen plutonium, but to rip off terrorists for said plutonium who might be out for revenge, and to allow Marty to be dragged into the situation.
  • Values Dissonance: In the DVD commentary, it's mentioned that some European audiences were put off by how the "improved" McFly family had become more materialistic, as exemplified by Marty getting the truck seen earlier in the film.
    • Also to modern audiences, the implication that Chuck Berry was inspired to write his most famous song by hearing a white kid play it (Berry was an established, popular musician with a history of hit records years before "Johnny B. Goode" was released). Although Marty only knew it because Chuck Berry played it, so it's really a situation of Chuck Berry influencing Marty influencing Chuck Berry influencing Marty influencing...
    • The fact that the film, a mainstream, widely-popular and heavily beloved/referenced movie, involves incest not only as a major plot point, but Played for Laughs, could also count.
    • And of course, in-universe Marty (and by proxy the audience) is caught a bit off-guard by the open racism he witnesses around him in 1955.
  • The Woobie: George, before he Took a Level in Badass. The poor guy has been getting pushed around by Biff his whole life. He's always unsure of himself and ready to give up his ambitions because he can't stand even the thought of rejection.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: A non-romantic version. Many have wondered that why exactly would George let Biff, who bullied him and tried to rape his wife years earlier, so close to his house in the improved 1985.

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