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Trivia / Back to the Future

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  • 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. He also posed as William for the picture of him in Part III, who he also later voiced in the Telltale game.
    • 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 Jerkass from the beginning of Part I, the wimpy version from the end of parts I and III and beginning of Part II, and the Jerkass In Chief from the 1985-A universe in Part II), 2015 Biff and his grandson Griff, and Buford "Mad-Dog" Tannen in 1885.
    • Lea Thompson portrays both Lorraine Baines McFly, George's wife, in 1955, three versions of 1985, and 2015, and Maggie McFly, Seamus's wife.
    • Elisabeth Shue plays Jennifer's younger and older self at the same time in Part II.
    • James Tolkan played both Principal Gerald Strickland in 1955 and 1985 and his ancestor, the U.S. Marshal James Strickland in 1885.
  • Approval of God: John DeLorean wrote a letter to Bob Gale after the first film's release, thanking him for immortalizing his eponymous car and saving the discontinued brand from falling into obscurity.
  • Creator Backlash: Crispin Glover was infuriated with the sequels because the production used Stock Footage from the first film with an especially convincing lookalike as The Other Darrin to the point that many people do not realize he had no part in them, and so is credited for a performance that he didn't do. He successfully sued for misappropriation of his likeness. While he later patched up his relationship with Robert Zemeckis, he has nothing positive to say about writer/producer Bob Gale.
  • 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 Elisabeth Shue in the Sequels and that wig she wore to make her resemble Lea Thompson made her look every bit her age.
  • Defictionalization:
  • 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:
    • Universal president Sidney Sheinberg insisted on several changes, several of them positive. He suggested "Professor Brown" be changed to "Doc Brown", which he felt was less stuffy. He also insisted on Emmett Brown's chimpanzee pet being changednote , which became the dog Einstein, and requested Marty's mother's name go from Eileen to Lorraine (his wife's name). One note that was heavily resisted was suggesting the title be Spaceman From Pluto after the comic seen in the film. Sheinberg went so far as to suggest multiple possible potential Title Drops. The Bobs were aghast at it, but Steven Spielberg used his clout to veto it by way of faxing Sheinberg and saying it was a "good joke".
    • Why the sequels exist at all - the studio wanted to cash in on the first movie's success by putting forth two more sequels, which the Bobs had not planned on doing. When the ultimatum came down that the studio would make them with or without their involvement, Zemeckis and Gale agreed to return so the movies would be on their terms at least.
    • 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, as keeping it "local" in Hill Valley, added an immediate urgency, and gave Doc something to do with the clock tower (in the original script, he simply watched from a mountainside).
  • Executive Veto: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, who own the franchise rights, have refused to make a fourth film or reboot the franchise because they don't want to turn the trilogy into a Franchise Zombie.
  • Fake American: Marty McFly — Michael J. Fox is in fact Canadian. You can hear his accent when he pronounces "sorry" as "sore-y."
  • Hey, It's That Place!: Courthouse Square, on the Universal Backlot, has been in dozens of productions; prior to BTTF, its most well known use was as the courthouse square in To Kill a Mockingbird. The set tragically burned to the ground during the 2008 Universal Studios fire, and was later rebuilt.
  • 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. Not only is he exactly the opposite of a bully (and Biff) in real life, he drew on his real life high school experiences of being bullied in order to play Biff.
  • Kids' Meal Toy:
    • To promote Part II in 1989, Pizza Hut offered four pairs of futuristic-looking plastic sunglasses called "solar shades."
    • McDonald's had a set of Happy Meal toys for the animated series in 1992: Doc in the DeLorean, Einstein in the Jules Verne train, Marty on his hoverboard, and Verne in the Junkmobile.
  • On-Set Injury:
    • Back to the Future Part II: During a "hoverboard" stunt scene, stuntwoman Cheryl Wheeler-Dixon was accidentally bounced off a pillar before falling thirty feet onto concrete, sustaining serious facial and wrist injuries.
    • Back to the Future Part III: The scene of Michael J. Fox being hanged wasn't acting. He actually was near hung to death there. He was quickly cut down when Robert Zemeckis noticed the "acting" was getting a little too real.
  • The Other Darrin: Jeffrey Weissman replaced Crispin Glover as George McFly in the sequels. Likewise, Elisabeth Shue replaced Claudia Wells as Jennifer Parker.
  • Pop Culture Urban Legends: 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. Now that the real date has passed, only time will tell if these fakes will stop being made.
  • 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.
    • The skateboarding sequences in this film resulted in a boom in the sport's popularity.
  • Scully Box:
    • While The Other Marty, Eric Stoltz, was around 6'0", Michael J. Fox was 5'4", so many tricks were used to make him appear around the same height as the 6'1" Christopher Lloyd. 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.
    • Thomas F. Wilson is 6'1" and was deliberately cast to serve as an imposing bully (the initial choice for Biff, J. J. Cohen, didn't look as imposing next to Stoltz), but in select scenes camera angles and boxes were used to make him appear even larger.
  • Star-Making Role: For Michael J. Fox.
  • What Could Have Been: In 2018 there were plans for a manga, illustrated by Yusuke Murata (of One-Punch Man fame) and overseen by Bob Gale, which would have followed on the events of the original movie. However, due to rights issues the project was cancelled, leaving us with nothing but a few pieces of leftover artwork.

    The Animated Series 
  • Channel Hop: More than a decade after the original run on CBS, the show resurfaced from March to August 2003 on Fox on their then-new "Fox Box" Saturday morning lineup, programmed by 4Kids Entertainment- likely to fill the E/I quota.
  • Creator Backlash: In one interview, Bill Nye talks about a science demonstration segment he did where he was meant to demonstrate static electricity with two balloons sticking together. While they were filming, there wasn't enough static built up on the balloons to get them to stick, so the crew used some 77 adhesive spray to get them to stick, which in Nye's opinion completely ruined the realism of the demonstration.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Only 18 episodes made it to VHS and Laserdisc, and none of them made it to DVD until October 20, 2015, when Universal released a Complete Series DVD set of the show—one day shy of the "futuristic" date Marty, Doc, and Jennifer visited in BTTF Part II. Up until then, you had the aforementioned incomplete releases, and whatever tapes were circulating from the original run on CBS, and the reruns on Fox (see above).
  • The Other Darrin:
    • In the animated segments, only Mary Steenburgen (Clara) and Thomas F. Wilson (Biff) reprised their roles from the movies.
    • In a bizarre version of this trope, Christopher Lloyd played Doc in the live-action bits, and Dan Castellaneta played his animated counterpart. In at least one instance (namely the episode “Time Waits For No Frog”), Cartoon!Doc’s voice was used for a brief voice-over during an otherwise live-action segment while stock footage of a bullfrog was shown.
    • In the French dub, only Luq Hamet (Marty) reprised his role from the films.
  • What Could Have Been: The head of children's programming for CBS suggested adding an alien to the ensemble for season two, but Bob Gale nixed the idea.

    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.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: In addition to the movies' main theme, the game features ZZ Top's "Doubleback" and Huey Lewis and the News' "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time".

    The IDW comic book 
  • Ascended Fanon:
    • George's reluctance at letting Robert Zemeckis adapt A Match Made in Space into a movie references an article in USA Today's Real Life reproduction of the 2015 newspaper cover prop. According to this page, the phony article was written by Gannett vice president Matt Urbanos to replace the junk filler used by the original newspaper prop.
    • One popular fan theory was that Doc reverse engineered the hoverboard in order to get the time train working, since the board was pretty much the only bit of future tech at his disposal at the time. This idea was sort of used in "Continuum Conundrum," when Doc mentions he used components from the hoverboard to help get the steam trike time machine working.
    • It confirms Cracked's theory that Doc burned his house down for insurance money.
  • Development Gag:
    • Doc Brown's prototype flux capacitor is called a "temporal field capacitor," which was the original name of the flux capacitor in early script drafts of the first movie.
    • Biff's daughter Tiff, who was considered as a character for the Telltale game but was ultimately dropped, shows up in the "Tannenville" timeline in the "Citizen Brown" adaptation of the game's story.
    • Supplemental materials for Back to the Future: The Ride, once kept on Universal Studios' website and seen in the pre-ride queue, included Doc's plans for a "Timeman" time machine suit that is activated when the wearer runs to a speed of 8.8 mph. In the comic, Doc manages to create a time machine suit using a Victorian-era diving suit from 1893, although he still has to reach 88 mph for temporal displacement.