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Tear Jerker / Back to the Future

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Doc: In about 30 years?
Marty: I hope so...

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    Back to the Future Part I 
  • Marty's family situation in the beginning of the movie.
    • While they all love one another, they're all dysfunctional and it's clear both parents are clinically depressed, and Marty is told repeatedly that no one in his family ever amounted to anything.
    • Even in his late 40s, George is still the bullied doormat he was in high school. Biff continues to dominate and control his life, demean him in front of his family, and take advantage of him to drink and drive in his own car which he wrecks. When Marty calls him out, George can't really muster a response.
    • Lorraine is not in good shape either: she's a bitter prude, out of shape, and hits the bottle. Her conversation at dinner implies that she regrets marrying George.
  • The movie doesn't dwell on it much, but Doc's situation is far from ideal either. He's a smart, good-natured guy living with years of failed projects and malicious gossip. In terms of human relationships, Marty is all he has.
  • Marty, while sitting in the cafe, shortly after arriving in 1955, witnesses his father's younger self getting bullied and harassed by his longtime nemesis, Biff, who still does so in the present. While Played for Laughs, imagine how it would feel to see something like this happen to your parent when he was younger, and realize it's been going on nonstop for over 30 years.
  • Both times that Doc gets shot. Imagine seeing your best friend killed in cold blood, twice, and not being able to do a damn thing about it in either case.
    • And the second time, Marty's reaction to thinking that Doc is dead is heartbreaking. He just slumps back on the pavement and cries. He then looks up with an expression that screams "What am I going to do?" (not knowing, of course, that Doc is alive behind him).
    • You can also hear Einstein howling in the background the first time Doc gets shot. Marty isn't the only one who had to watch their best friend get killed.
  • It's subtle, but after the skateboard scene where Biff and his goons chase down Marty, he heads back to 1955 Doc's lab... and finds that he made it to the end of the 1985 tape.
    1985 Doc: [on tape] Oh my God... They found me. I don't know how, but they found me... RUN FOR IT, MARTY!!! [tape rewinds] Oh my God... They found me. I don't know how, but they found me... RUN FOR IT, MARTY!!! [tape rewinds]
    • Despite this, Doc refuses to hear Marty explain what happens that night, believing it'll just make the situation worse.
  • The scene when Biff corners Marty and finds Lorraine in the car... At that point, Marty sums up Biff's character in two simple words.
    Marty: Leave her alone, you bastard!
    • And when George finds Biff with her instead of Marty, the fact that she sounds so terrified.
      Lorraine: [tearfully] George, help me! Please!
  • The moment where Marty starts fading away and George looks like he's about to give up on Lorraine after a Jerkass steals her away during the dance, and Marty weakly, inaudibly pleads with George not to do so as he starts to collapse. It's less than a minute, but the intensity of that moment makes it feel so much longer.
  • Marty hugging 1955 Doc goodbye before trying to get back to 1985. Now more than ever, his mind is on whether his friend will get the message. If he doesn't, this will be the last time he'll see him alive, and Marty knows it.
    1955 Doc: In about 30 years?
    Marty: [briefly looks like he's about to cry] ...I hope so.
    • And Marty can't even give 1955 Doc a proper goodbye, in case it really is the last time he'll see his friend alive, since 1955 Doc steadfastly refuses to listen to anything Marty has to say about his future!
  • The moment right after Doc has torn up the letter and Marty is forced to climb into the DeLorean. Hitting the dashboard in grief-stricken frustration, Marty questions why Doc had to do such a thing and laments not having more time. The more poetic version from Get Thee Back to the Future possibly makes it worse: Marty refers to it as Doc tearing his chances of survival to pieces and tearing Marty's heart, because without some way to warn him, he'll lose his best friend again once he returns to the present.
  • Tears of Joy version: The "Earth Angel" sequence where Marty plays the guitar among the band in order to make Lorraine and George kiss. And he succeeds.
  • This small exchange, after George excitedly tells Marty about his short stories — since Marty is probably the only person to show any interest in George's hobby — but refuses to let Marty see them:
    George: Well, what if they didn't like them? What if they told me I was no good? [Beat] I guess that would be pretty hard for somebody to understand.
    Marty: [sadly] Uh, no. No, not hard at all.

    IDW Comics 
  • The entire concept of the "Who is Marty McFly" arc. Marty's own memories from the first movie doesn't seem to match with the memories of the timeline he's living in. He starts to question if his are not real after all. He's then given a scare by Marcus Irving, a fellow scientist who also invented Time Travel, but for the wrong reasons, saying that Marty would disappear because he was originally the Marty of Twin Pines Mall, not Lone Pine.
    • One of the most heartbreaking moments in these issues is when Marty gets kidnapped by his own clones, and he tells them that he was sorry for taking their lives away from them and that he wasn't the real Marty. He was so distraught by this that it almost seems that he was about to give up his life and just fade away. It all turns out well in the end, but it doesn't make it less painful to watch.
    • The Nightmare Sequence that Marty has where he realizes that the Marty from Lone Pines has returned and accuses him of stealing his life. Even worse, in his dream, Doc greets Lone Pines Marty, completely ignoring Marty and the two watch Marty fade away. The scene ends with Marty being startled awake and hugging his dad for comfort.
      Marty: After everything we've been through, I just don't want to lose you.
      George: Marty, what's going on with you lately?
      Marty: I'd do anything not to lose you, Dad.
      • Just to put that in perspective: At a time when Marty is fearing that he may lose his life and everyone he loves, the idea that Doc might be contented to watch him disappear is still the unkindest cut.
    • The sequence begins with Marty in his bedroom looking at a picture of Jennifer and wondering aloud whether she even wants this version of him. Considering that he has no idea how they met in this particular timeline and might literally not be the guy she fell in love with, it's a reasonable question.
    • Just for fun, the hypothetical fate of Lone Pines Marty, per the nightmare sequence, is just as upsetting as the situation Marty Prime would be in if he ever turned up. He's had his life stolen and his parents, his friends, and Jennifer taken away from him, directly after watching Doc apparently get gunned down. It's (probably) not a real situation in the context of the comic, but if it were, it would be unsolvable and utterly upsetting all around.
    • In the face of everything he's dealing with, why won't Marty contact Doc for help, even with Jennifer urging him to?
      Marty: I don't think I could take it if you both don't believe something's wrong.
  • The "Continuum Conundrum" arc revisits Marty in the spring of 1986, with Doc nowhere in sight. Not only is Marty missing his best friend, he's sinking into a depression as he grows increasingly sure that his Glory Days are already behind him at 17.
    • The events of "Continuum Conundrum" and "Who Is Marty McFly?" happen in such quick succession that Marty's parents, who have no idea what's bothering him, become increasingly worried about him and wonder if they should send him to see a therapist.
  • The start of the "Hard Time" arc reveals that Marty actually had a very close relationship with his felon uncle, Joey. He even recalls some fond memories that they spent together. Marty even goes on a research rampage, trying to figure out what caused his favorite uncle to descend to such lows.
    • There was even a little heartbreaking scene where a toddler Marty is boasting to his friends about his uncle's 'achievement' of stealing from the bank, only for his teacher to scold him. Marty's response really makes it sad:
      Teacher: Martin McFly! That's not true, Martin. And anyway, what happened to your uncle is nothing to be proud of.
      Young Marty: [looks down with his hands behind his back] But I miss him.