8.8 Strange Facts About Back to the Future

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One of the greatest time-travel adventures turns 30 next week, so we’ve collect (almost) 9 strange facts about Back to the Future!

You know how seemingly every kid born from the mid 70s to mid 80s seems to have an undying love for the original Star Wars trilogy? I feel that way about the Back to the Future trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like Star Wars, but when it comes to a story that mixes science-fiction, humor, and relatable characters, nothing beats Robert Zemeckis’ time-travel trilogy in my book. Of those three movies, the original has always been the clear favorite, so I’ve assembled 9 of the coolest facts I’ve gathered about the nearly 30-year-old classic. Well, actually there’s one that’s not verifiable, so I’m gonna just say I’ve got 8.8 facts here, and they’re all serious shit.

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1 – LEA THOMPSON AND CHRISTOPHER LLOYD’S ONLY SCENE TOGETHER IS IN THIS MOVIE

Given the considerable screen time the actors had throughout the entire trilogy, you’d expect Lorraine Baines McFly and Doc Brown to have some notable interaction during the series. Alas, the two only share a single scene throughout the three-movie span as Lorraine barges in on Doc and Marty to ask her time-traveling son to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance.

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2 – BILLY ZANE’S CHARACTER NEVER SPEAKS

Billy Zane’s first movie role was Back to the Future as Match, a henchman of Biff Tannen who always had a toothpick matchstick in his mouth. It’s perhaps because of that oral fixation that he never utters a single unique line of dialogue, only yelling “SHIT” along with Biff’s entire clique when the bullies run into a manure truck. After a few notable roles between films, Zane’s reprisal of the role in Back to the Future II finally had some lines to say on his own.

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3 – NOBODY CALLS MARTY CHICKEN. NOBODY!

For as much as it’s made into a running gag and plot device later on, Marty is never called “chicken” by anyone during the course of Back to the Future. Marty’s newfound aversion to being called cowardly over the next two movies is the prime reason that he accepts a duel in 1885, loses the Sports Almanac after initially retrieving it in 1955, and gets into a car accident in 1985.

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4 – THE MALL’S NAME CHANGES

Back to the Future Part II and Part III both include multiple scenes where text is altered due to changes in the space-time continuum — newspaper headlines, tombstones, and matchbooks change before your very eyes in the follow-up films. You never see any text alter immediately in the film, but Marty’s return to the scene of the attempted murder at the end of the movie shows that the Twin Pines Mall never came to be. Due to Marty’s destruction of half of Old Man Peabody’s pine tree supply, the shopping center is known as Lone Pine Mall in the alternate version of 1985.

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5 – MARTY’S GIRLFRIEND WAS RECAST, TOO

You may have heard that Michael J. Fox was not the first actor hired to play Marty McFly. While he was always the first choice of the film’s producers, his initial inability to free time from playing Alex Keaton on the sitcom Family Ties meant that the role was initially given to Eric Stolz (who went onto star in Mask that year instead and later co-starred with Lea Thompson in Some Kind of Wonderful). When the producers realized the movie needed Michael J. Fox and Stolz was removed from the project, the role of Jennifer Parker had to be changed too, due to the actress’ height difference with Fox. That actress? Melora Hardin, best known as playing Jan Levinson on the American version of The Office. Unlike Stolz, however, Hardin had yet to record any scenes in her role.

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6 – CLAUDIA WELLS DID REPRISE THE ROLE OF JENNIFER

In the time between her performance as Jennifer Parker in the original Back to the Future and the filming of Back to the Future Part II, actress Claudia Wells’ mother was diagnosed with cancer. When it came time to cast the sequel, Wells wished to take care of her ailing parent and passed on reprising her role in the two subsequent films (Elizabeth Shue would take on the part). However, when Telltale Games created a five-episode Back to the Future videogame series, Wells once again played Jennifer in a brief cameo.

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7 – WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT HAS THE SAME DIALOGUE IN ITS CHASE SCENE

There are four lines of dialogue in Who Framed Roger Rabbit that were initially uttered in Back to the Future, including one (“as far as the eye can see”) uttered by the same actor (Christopher Lloyd). However, every repeated line is said in completely different context with the exception of one, as Smarty and Biff both state “I’m gonna ram him” as they attempted to run over the protagonist of their respective franchises.

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8 – THE HONEYMOONERS TIME TRAVELED

When Marty awakes in his mother’s childhood home on the evening of November 5, 1955, the Baines family watches The Honeymooners while eating dinner with their clandestine relative. While there was indeed an episode of The Honeymooners airing on that exact date, the one shown in the movie (and referenced as “a classic” by Marty) did not air in reality until December 31, 1955.

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8.8 – MARTY’S BROTHER PROBABLY SERVED DOC BROWN FOOD

While this is unverifiable, Burger King is referenced shown three times in Back to the Future. Wrappers for the fast food franchise can be seen in Doc Brown’s home, and it’s plenty understandable he’d frequent BK since there’s a location shown right next door as Marty skateboards to school. The third time we see the restaurant’s iconic logo? On the uniform of Marty’s brother as he heads to work. He states that he has to take a bus there, and since Marty needed wheels to get to his older friend’s abode, one can assume that is the very location that Dave McFly works at. If that’s true, do you think they ever talked about Marty behind his back?

What’s your favorite Back to the Future fact? Talk about it below and be sure to tune into our Monday Movie Night stream next week when we deliver a commentary for the film’s 30th anniversary! To get weekly commentaries from your pals at Laser Time, please support our Patreon.

13 thoughts on “8.8 Strange Facts About Back to the Future

  1. I love the Back to the Future Trilogy so much that one of these days I will buy a Delorean 🙂 I can’t watch just one of them, I always have to watch them in order like they are just one long movie split into sections. I’ve had a lot of people tell me they hate the third one which I don’t understand. But I like Clint Eastwood westerns and Firefly so I don’t mind having some westerns mixed with my science fiction.

    I don’t know if you want to count this but towards the end when Marty is playing Johnny B. Goode, “Marvin Berry” from the Starlighters band calls his cousin “Chuck” so he could listen to Johnny b. Goode. I could not find any references to Chuck Berry actually having a cousin named Marvin.

  2. Are you sure it isn’t a matchstick that Match has in his mouth, thus giving him a reason to be called “Match?”

  3. Love these movies, so much. Always thought that chicken thing was strange as well, maybe he got changed in the time travel too?

  4. These movies are great. I just recently marathoned them while sitting at the hospital with my wife and freshly newborn son. Somehow it seemed fitting to sit there holding him and watching as it was the first of many things I couldn’t wait to introduce to him.

  5. I”m a little late to comment, but here are a few interesting facts I learned about only recently.

    1) I had no idea Crispin Glover wasn’t actually in BTF II or III. It’s crazy it took me this long to find this out. They used a stand in and always avoided showing his full face in the later movies. Crispin was on an episode of The Nerdist Podcast giving his take on the whole issue.

    2) Another thing I didn’t notice for almost 20 years of watching this film. Michael J. Fox plays his own daughter in BTF II. I’m not sure if he plays the role throughout or just in one specific scene where she’s at home, but it’s freaky that I never noticed it before.

    3) Charlies Fleishcher, voice of Roger Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, played Terry, the owner of Western Auto. He was the man servicing Biff’s car in 1955 and later he speaks to Marty McFly in front of the Clocktower in 2015 as his older self.

    4) Not so much a fact as a moment in BTF II that I have always been curious about. When Marty first runs into Biff’s goons, they tell him that they need to take him to Biff and they offer him the easy way or the hard way in doing so. They knock him out and the scene fades to black. A voice over then says “The Easy Way”. I never understood the purpose of that. Is it some inside joke or a reference to something I’m not aware of?

    1. I found a copy of the script. 3-D pulls out the blackjack & hits Marty overhead then 3-D says, “The Easy Way”…. most likely being sarcastic, as they weren’t going to give Marty an actual choice.

  6. I remember the first time that I noticed the sign change at the mall, it was one of those little things that made me love the movie so much more. The Roger Rabbit dialogue fact made me laugh, love that movie almost as much as this one. Robert Zemeckis is one of my favorite directors of all time, if not my favorite.

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