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Fridge / Back to the Future

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Fridge Brilliance

  • Why does the DeLorean lack a rear-view mirror? Not only because vision the back is blocked off by the time machine engine, but to avoid reflecting the light of the flux capacitor into the eyes of the driver. (There's a label on the glass which warns of blinding light.)
  • In the second and third movies, Marty suddenly seems to have a problem with being called "chicken" (or "yellow", etc.) Although it seems to come out of nowhere, but in the first film no one calls him chicken, they may call him a lot of things but no one really questions his bravery.
    • When parked with Lorraine, and seeing her drink, she responds, "Don't be such a square. Everybody who's anybody drinks." This is followed immediately by Marty taking a swig albeit begrudgingly. So, while no one explicitly calls Marty chicken in the first film and it was implied to be more so him trying to salvage his plan after Lorraine didn’t react negatively to him parking and showed that his description of herself as a prude was false, it subtly shows him vulnerable to the same peer pressure that will get him in trouble in parts II and III.
  • It's made clear that Hill Valley is kinda crummy and pretty inconsequential. But Marty and Doc are very lucky that this is the case, because it makes it the perfect testbed for time travel. No matter how much they alter Hill Valley's history, it won't greatly affect the rest of the world, which makes messing up history less catastrophic, and makes it safer to alter history for the better (e.g. Marty's family, Marty's kids and Clara Clayton). This is explicitly stated in the Telltale game, in which changes that could potentially affect the world fail to to do so miserably; in Episode 2, the prevention of Biff's gangster father's imprisonment results in the existence of the fifth biggest crime syndicate in the state, and in Episode 3, the alternate Hill Valley's strict societal model only has one other adopter, the already law-heavy Singapore.
    • This wasn't always the case, however. In BttF2, Biff's meddling with the timeline somehow got Richard Nixon elected to at least four terms and the Vietnam War is still going on as of 1983. Though it could be argued his meddling was financial in nature rather then social giving him a lot more room to influence those outside of Hill Valley. After all it really isn't of world-changing significance if someone did or did not get laid at the prom, but millions upon millions of dollars suddenly ending up in a different set of hands...
  • So in the first movie, Lorraine falls in love and later marries George after he is involved in a car accident because she feels sorry for him. In the second movie, it is implied that Jennifer marries Marty because she feels sorry for him after he is involved in a car accident. Can't believe it took me so long to realize that.
  • Typically, a helicopter indicates to the audience that Marty is indeed back in 1985: we see one at the end of Part I (with the searchlight shining on the Clocktower) and we hear one at the end of Part III (when the DeLorean is drifting past the Eastwood Ravine sign). However, we don't hear one right away upon landing back in 1985 in Part II, helping the audience to believe that Marty may be stuck in the wrong year. However, we do hear a helicopter right at the moment when Marty gets the date from Strickland's newspaper, confirming that we ARE in 1985—just not the right one.
    • Technically subverted in a doubly brilliant method since when Doc, Marty, Jennifer and Einstein return from 2015 to 1985A, they hear an AEROPLANE instead of a HELICOPTER, it's also a flying vehicle but not the SAME one we'd expect, much like how they ARE in 1985 alright, but not the SAME 1985 that they know.
  • There's been a lot of speculation as to what happened to the Marty we see go back to 1955 at the end of the film (Marty II). But then there's the scene in Pt. III in which Doc doesn't remember dressing Marty in those ridiculous clothes. Why is this relevant? This Doc, much like the Marty we follow throughout the films, is from a timeline which no longer exists, and has memories of it. This Doc does not recall his interactions with Marty set into motion by his own presence in 1885. However you explain it, somehow the mechanics of time-travel in this universe absorb versions of time-travelers with altered pasts into the original one without their memories (at least, as far as we can see) to maintain continuity.
    • This actually solidifies the idea Doc had about everyone from the original 1885 having no memories of the alternate universes. They aren't different people and they didn't just hop from one parallel universe to the next.
    • There is far more Fridge Horror version of what happened to him. Marty-2 could be stuck in 1955 which would wrap up his non-presence very neatly. After all, what people need to understand about this version of Marty is that he has lived a much more affluent life than the original. His dad is rich and extroverted, his mum is no longer an alcoholic, his siblings are successful, and he has every material possession that he has ever wanted. A far cry from the original Marty who came from a nearly broken home. Well here's the thing: what was the original Marty doing when he received the flyer concerning the exact time and date of the Hill Valley clock tower being struck? He was staring wistfully at the truck in the dealership window - an act in which Marty-2 would never have needed to do as he already owned it. We can still conceivably have the entire movie play out exactly the way that we see it happen, but no flyer means no return trip. What happened to him at this point enters WMG, but just suppose that he then went to live with Doc Brown and became George's mentor or came up with the suggestion to befriend Marty's younger self in the first place. Makes you think.
  • It's widely known that the time machine originally had been conceived as a chamber (specifically a refrigerator), and to travel back to 1985, Doc and Marty originally would've gone into the desert to a nuclear testing site to get the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. In Part III, Doc sends Marty to 1885 at a drive-in theater in the desert. So the Bobs finally used that idea in some form!
  • Marty walks in on Biff while he's watching Clint Eastwood in the hot tub. The scene in particular has Clint be shot several times and being knocked down, before revealing he was wearing a bulletproof vest. Sound familiar?
  • In 1955, Marty carelessly informs Goldie Wilson that he's going to be mayor. While this was already going to happen by 1985, it's possible that Marty's words encouraged Goldie a little more. While this has already been brought up, think of the town in this case. In the original 1985, there's a porno theatre on the main street, Lyon Estates looks like a slum for low-income families with graffiti on the subdivision entrance, and the town is plagued by the machinations of the local mad scientist Emmett Brown. Now consider the town in the later movies, with George McFly, local author winning an award, the Lyon Estates entrance lacking graffiti when Marty returns from 1885, and local mad scientist Emmett Brown commended for his work in the field of science. Not only that, but while the porno theatre is still there in 1985, the town is obviously thriving by 2015, with a sprawling mall, a lake in the middle of the town, trendy shops everywhere, Goldie Wilson III promoting hover-conversions for cars (possibly something he himself invented)... overall not only has the town's condition massively improved but it may all have been the work of Goldie Wilson II becoming mayor and, as he said at the time, 'cleaning up this town'. Maybe Marty's idea of him being mayor encouraged him to try even harder than before?
  • More Fridge Heartwarming courtesy of the comic: in the "Who Is Marty McFly?" arc, Doc is forced to gun down a series of animatronic copies of Marty to protect the real Marty. Since they had both initially believed that these were versions of Marty from other timelines and Doc has only just figured out the truth, he hastily assures Marty that it's not what it looks like, explaining, "I would never hurt you, no matter what timeline you came from." With this in mind, we—and they—probably should have realized the truth earlier when one of the "Martys" socked Doc in the face, even when he was trying to reason with them and offer a solution to the problem. The real Marty wouldn't hurt Doc either!
  • From the Telltale game: Emmett's invention in 1931 was basically a flying car. If we take that game and The Ride (where Doc founds the Institute of Future Technology) together, we can surmise that the only reason we didn't have ubiquitous flying cars by the Real Life because Real Life didn't have Doc to invent them.
  • In the "Time Served" storyarc from the comic book series, Linda seems to have a poor opinion of Biff, even though he's appeared to be nice to the whole family since George knocked him out (and the kids at least shouldn't have experienced mean Biff). But Lorraine probably told the kids the story of how she and George got together many times (like she did in the original timeline), and while Lorraine and George are now on good terms with Biff despite the Attempted Rape, Linda likely thinks of it as the serious issue that it is.
    • Additionally, in that same arc, Lorraine still sees good in Joey despite having gone to jail, saying that when people make mistakes they become better people. It's possible she had this mindset towards Biff after he got knocked out - he was a horrible person but was taught a lesson and became a better person (at least to George and Lorraine).
  • The obvious Doylist explanation for Doc and Marty having a slightly different vocabulary in the animated series is that it's a kids' cartoon, but the in-universe explanation is probably quite similar — with Doc now having two preadolescent boys, they're probably trying to watch their language a little more.
  • Did Biff Tannen being so into cars have anything to do with Buford Tannen hating horsepucky so much?
  • The musical adds voice recognition technology to the DeLorean, making it difficult for anyone but Doc to use it. While this gives Marty some trouble, it's actually a clever way to curtail the events of Back to the Future Part II (and by extension, Part III) from occurring in the musical timeline.
  • Marty McFly being easily goaded by questioning his bravery makes a ton of sense when you consider that in the original timeline, Marty grew up with a father who lacked self confidence and let Biff walk all over him. Marty's flaw is basically a reaction to George's, yet results in him being taken advantage of all the same. Whereas George McFly's character arc involves him getting angry at exactly the right moment, Marty's arc involves him learning not to get angry for the wrong reasons.

Fridge Horror

  • Biff attempted to rape Lorraine in 1955.
    • And it's Marty's fault!
    • In the end of the Part I movie, Biff still is around the family... as some kind of friend! They even acknowledge if it weren't for Biff being a jerk and an almost rapist, they wouldn't be together.
      • Biff isn’t really a "friend" of the McFlys'. He's only there to work on their cars, as part of his auto-detailing job. Biff's just being a massive suck-up to everyone because he's terrified of George now, and is thus trying to be on his best behavior around him.
      • Which may even be worse, as the implication seems to be that 30 years of being intimidated by George has turned Biff into some kind of timid sycophant who is terrified of his former victim. It seems no matter what, someone in their "relationship" is fated to serve.
    • In the 1985-A of Part II, they're married and there's obviously no love lost between them. When Lorraine-A tries to leave, Biff-A threatens her kids, which means he's been holding that over her head. In other words, he's been raping her since they got married.
      • Also, Lorraine-A says to Marty "Oh, they must've hit you hard on the head this time", making us realize how particularly horrible Marty-A's childhood must have been in this time.
      • To take this one step further: don't forget that the Biff of 1985-A murdered George McFly in 1973-A. It's entirely possible that Lorraine witnessed this, and was finally coerced into marrying Biff (and prevented from reporting him to the police) by the threat that either she or one of her children may be next. What a charming guy.
      • Looking at her reaction during the newsreel, Lorraine isn't exactly a beaming bride.
    • After Lorraine attempts to leave, listen to her words. She's using classic abuse victim phrases to excuse Biff's behavior, stating that "she deserved it" and "he looks after us, he deserves our respect." Despite her (quite refreshing) outburst when she threatens to leave, Lorraine is a broken woman by this point, and it's positively gut-wrenching to watch, especially if you have an experience with abuse personally. Then, compare her in 1955, where she tells Biff she wouldn't marry him "even if [he] had a million dollars," before kicking him in the shin and slamming him over the head with her dress box. How this feisty girl became the broken woman of 1985A is best left unexplored.
    • We've seen how terrible Biff treats Marty's mother in 1985A, and it's heavily implied that she's being raped by Biff. It's horrible in on itself, and then you remember that Marty has a sister. Given that Biff has complete power over the McFlys, imagine what Biff could be doing to Marty's sister.
  • When Marty returns to 1985, a lot of things are different than when he felt, including his girlfriend's appearance. The meta explanation for this is a simple case of The Other Darrin. However, it becomes horrifying when you consider a possible in-universe explanation. What if his own parents weren't the only teenage couple whose meeting Marty disrupted? Maybe, during the chase with Biff or the Johnny B. Goode recital, Jennifer's parents were in the crowd and were too busy watching Marty to meet each other? Than, at a later time, one parent or the other got married to someone else and had a daughter named Jennifer with them. So the reason Jennifer looks different when Marty gets back is that she has one different parent than before, and is essentially a completely different person.
    • But they both happen to look just like Claudia Wells?
      • Or Elisabeth Shue?
      • Since the second Jennifer had one parent in common with the first one, it makes sense that she would look similar.
    • If that's the case, why does Marty recognize her as Jennifer? He clearly has no memories of the new timeline given how shocked he was at seeing his family and house, so he should be just as shocked by her appearance as he was by his family’s.
  • In the first film, the 1955 Doc is amazed to find out an invention of his, namely the time machine, actually materialized and works in the future. Then in Part III, after he successfully uses it himself to send Marty back to 1985, he discovers a letter by his 1985 self explicitly telling Marty to destroy it immediately after returning to 1985 himself. It had to have shocked him that he'd go from pride to regret over the time machine.
  • Cracked points out some new disturbing implications, like, Doc burning down his house for the insurance money, the fact that there were bystanders when Biff was molesting Lorraine who didn't try to intervene, new implications about the deleted scene between Biff and the former mechanic Terry, the fact that the "sleep-inducing alpha rhythm generator" clearly is an electronic version of a roofie, the revelation that millions more people died in 1985-A because the Vietnam War went on longer (as noted by a newspaper article), and just how many people had their futures altered because of the locomotive theft in part III.
    • In addition to no one wanting to mess with Biff, this is 1955. Everyone surrounding them probably thought that she deserved it for her low-cut dress and her loose attitude to sex and drink. Values Dissonance at its finest. We also have no idea where Brown got that Alpha-rhythm generator from. Given how he is a man quite happy to steal plutonium from terrorists it is not unreasonable to suggest that he stole it from somewhere that would have legitimate use for it such as a hospital, a dentist, or even an old-people's home as an alternative for sleeping pills. Remember that almost everything has at least one malicious use in the wrong hands no matter how useful it is.
  • Lorraine was a victim of attempted rape by Biff Tannen, whom drops by at the McFly household every now and then. Imagine how uncomfortable it must feel for Lorraine to be anywhere near the person who almost raped her.
    • Or how incredibly satisfying it must be to watch her former bully and rapist cower every time her husband walks into the room. Everyone keeps assuming that it was George and not her that hired Biff, but not everyone responds to trauma in the same way.
  • The "Who is Marty McFly?" storyline in the IDW comic series not only teases out the existential repercussions of the first film's Happy Ending and milks them for all they're worth, it features a Nightmare Sequence (spurred by a speculation from another character that the Lone Pines timeline may reassert itself) in which Marty helplessly watches himself fade from existence. Was he legitimately traumatized by that experience?
  • Why does getting erased from time seem to be somewhat agonizing? It's likely because they're literally losing the nerves and small body partsnote  that they need to function. We see this happen when Marty starts to lose his hand, along with his sudden inability to play the guitar.
  • The universe itself wants Doc to die. He cheated death in the first movie, and the timeline keeps trying to rectify this throughout the series.
    • He first gets shot by the Libyans and dies, then Marty goes back in time and tries to warn him. Doc repeatedly says he doesn't want to know, and in the finale when Marty is about to tell him to his face (after Doc rips up the letter), lightning conveniently strikes a tree and interrupts their conversation, ensuring Doc doesn't know of his deadly fate
      • Even when Marty tries to yell to Doc, just as he says the word 'shot', the bells start ringing to drown him out completely, leaving Doc uncertain of what his future holds
    • Doc tries to reattach the cable on the clocktower and almost falls to his death, this could be around the point he decided to tape the letter back together since now the universe is trying to kill him earlier than intended
    • Marty returns to the present, and Doc is saved. Fast-forward to the second movie's ending, where the Delorean is struck by lightning. This didn't kill Doc, only sending him back to 1885... but as we see in the third movie, 1885 is now where he dies, being shot by Buford Tannen over a disagreement, with Marty nowhere around to help him. It's only because Marty disobeyed Doc's own orders and went back to 1885 that he was able to help him at all
      • On reflection, this shouldn't be surprising. In many Time Travel stories, Ontological Inertia tries to keep time travelers from changing history ... and as Larry Niven once pointed out in All The Myriad Ways, the simplest way for history to do that is to kill the inventor of the time machine. It's a clear-cut case of cosmic self-defense.
  • By the end of the series, Marty's family life as he knows it is gone. Sure, everyone seems to be living a happier life; his uncle isn't in jail, his parents are much happier in their marriage, and his dad is a successful author. But everyone's personalities have completely changed from how he knows them. His family more than likely have an entirely different set of memories than he does, seeing as he only knows about his life before time travel. His own family has become a group of strangers that he'll have to begin making memories with from 1985 onwards, but any kind of childhood memories he has no longer exist.
    • This becomes Ascended Fridge Horror in the IDW comic.
    • Alternatively, it's only been a day or so since Marty got back to 1985. Perhaps in time his alternate memories would merge with his old ones.
    • According to Lea Thompson, Eric Stoltz pointed this out after the first cast read-through.
  • Marty was skilled enough with a revolver that he probably could have shot Mad Dog Tannen if he wanted to. But it's unknown if Mad Dog had any children yet. If Tannen did not, Marty would have, at the very minimum, prevented Biff Tannen from being born. While Biff would not have been around to bully George McFly in 1955 or become his superior by 1985, George likely wouldn't have gotten the confidence boost to be successful, leading to a similar timeline that Marty grew up in. Biff not trashing Marty's car also means that Marty might have taken the car over to visit Doc Brown in the Mall, which may have been early enough to avoid running into the Libyans, which could have prevented Marty going back in time in the first place... Not to mention the numerous other lives changed by Tannen dying in the 1800s.
  • Biff was so horrible in his youth that he would force himself on the object of his obsession. This leads to some horrifying implications.
    • Could he have forced himself on other girls? Being silent about rape was tragically common at the time since the sexist world of the 1950s didn't have an enlightened view of women and sex.
    • Did he violate Lorraine in the original timeline too? This could explain why the original Lorraine in 1985 is in poor shape, depressed, and sneers at the idea of dating: victims of sexual abuse have a habit of making themselves unhealthy, are often traumatized from the incident, and have internalized their abuse as being their fault for being rotten. It doesn't help that in the 1950s, and to a lesser degree in the 1980s, authorities weren't that sympathetic toward sex abuse victims. Lorraine believes her own "loose" behavior brought Biff upon her and thinks her grouchy attitude is how a girl should act
    • If Biff did force himself on Lorraine, the fact Biff still bullies George into the present would not help Lorraine's mental health one bit and add to her excessive drinking and smoking. It speaks volumes about how cruel of a person Biff is that he would force himself on a girl and bully that girl's husband.
  • As confirmed in Biff to the Future, Doc-A never got the plutonium to power his time machine. Does that mean the terrorists from the first movie took theirs to somebody who actually made a bomb in that timeline?