“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads”. The Back to the Future trilogy revolved around teenager Marty McFly and scientist Dr. Emmett Brown, living in 1985 as they travel through time visiting 1955, 2015, an alternative 1985 and 1885. The trilogy is very popular but it was the first film that was a massive success. The first film in the trilogy became one of the highest-grossing films of 1985 and went on to become an international sensation. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale co-wrote the trilogy and Zemeckis directed all three films, which starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Thomas F. Wilson. The trilogy includes Back to the Future (July 3, 1985), Back to the Future Part II (November 22, 1989) and Back to the Future Part III (May 25, 1990). The first film in the trilogy, Back to the Future, won several awards including an Academy Award, Hugo Award and a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. The Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2007. The success of the trilogy led to several spin-offs including the animated series Back to the Future, a long line of video games and a Back to the Future musical. It also included a motion-simulated ride at Universal Studios that has since been closed down. The film had such a huge impact that former President Ronald Regan even quoted the film during his 1986 State of The Union Address.
The trilogy remains popular to this day and has some of the most loyal fans. The film is full of Easter eggs, secrets and behind the scenes happenings that fans might not be aware of. Some fans might even be surprised by some secrets they might not even know. Here is a look at 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Back to the Future Trilogy.
#1 The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower plays an important part in the Back to the Future trilogy and is seen in all three films. In the first film, it’s revealed that the clock tower was once struck by lighting and the city wants to tear down the clock tower. This information is valuable when Doc uses the lighting bolt to help Marty get back to 1985. However, some fans might not notice the subtle change caused by Doc Brown. Doc Brown is forced to climb up the clock tower to reconnect a cable necessary to send Marty back in time. While up there he breaks off a piece of the tower ledge where he’s standing. The damage caused by Doc is still seen on the tower when Marty returns to 1985. The Clock Tower is in the same condition in 2015 however, the Clock Tower has disappeared in the alternate 1985 timeline. In 1885, the Clock Tower is being constructed and later Marty and the Doc take a picture with the clock.
#2 The Time Traveling Refrigerator
In Back to the Future, Dr. Emmett Brown builds a time machine out of a DeLorean. In order to travel through time, it needs to reach 88 miles per hour and generate 1.21 jigowatts (gigawatts). The Flux capacitor is what makes time travel possible. Initially, the power source is plutonium but is later changed to Mr. Fusion. However, the DeLorean wasn’t always the time machine. Originally, the time machine was just a laser in a room. In an early draft of the script the time machine was a refrigerator that had to be taken to an atomic bomb test site in order to time travel. However, Robert Zemickes feared that children might lock themselves in a fridge after seeing the movie. It was changed to a DeLorean DMC-12 because it resembled an alien spacecraft, which was required so that those in 1955 would mistake it for an alien spacecraft. Later, Steven Spielberg included a refrigerator and atomic test site in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull.
#3 Back To The Future Day
In Back to the Future II (1989), Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future and land on the day: October 21, 2015. To commemorate the day, the actual day of October 21st, 2015 was officially selected as Back to the Future Day. It was also the 30th anniversary of the release of the first film. To celebrate that day several companies paid tribute to the film. Nike recreated the Nike Mag shoes that Marty wears in the future including the power laces. Toyota and Universal Pictures created the Toyota Tacoma that was inspired by the pickup truck that Marty drives in the trilogy. Universal Pictures released a fake trailer for Jaws 19, which is shown in the film. Also, the October 22nd edition of USA Today featured a mock front page that was a recreation of the same one seen in the film. Additionally, most movie theaters showed the Back to the Future trilogy back-to-back. Also, Both Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised their roles for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
#4 The Futuristic 2015
Back to the Future Part II was released on November 22, 1989. The plot revolved around Doc Brown and Marty traveling to the future in 2015. Later, they must travel back to 1955 to fix the timeline and to avoid the terrifying alternative 1985. Robert Zemeckis stated that he didn’t try to portray an accurate 2015 but a funny 2015. Despite that they actually got a lot of stuff right about the future. One of the things they got wrong was the invention of flying cars. However, they were right about several things, such as flat screen TVs with multiple channels mounted on the wall, tablet computers, video-chat, hands-free video games, the rise of 3D films and the popularity of plastic surgery. Also, there was one more prediction they got right but they were just off by a year. The Chicago Cubs had never won a World Series since 1908, which many blamed on the Curse of the Billy Goat. When Marty travels to the future he sees the Cubs won the series. Of course, that didn’t happen in 2015, but one year later in the fall of 2016.
#5 Huey Lewis “You’re Just Too Darn Loud”
Huey Lewis is a musician best known as a member of the Band, Huey Lewis and the News. Huey Lewis and the News released the album Sports in 1983 and it went on to become their best selling album. Huey Lewis and the News are also very well known for their contribution to the Back to the Future trilogy, particularly the first film. They contributed the songs, “The Power of Love” and “Back In Time” for the film’s soundtrack. Huey Lewis also makes a memorable and ironic appearance in Back to the Future. Marty McFly has dreams of one day making it big as a rock star. The first step to that dream is winning the school’s ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest. Marty and his band, The Pinheads, audition but are rejected by the judges. It’s a painful rejection for Marty but if fans look closely they’ll actually notice that one of the judges in Huey Lewis. In fact, Lewis plays the judge that tells Marty he’s rejected and says, “I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.” The irony is that Marty is playing a heavy metal cover of Huey’s “The Power of Love”.
#6 Biff Tannen Has Answers For Your Questions
Biff Tannen and his relatives are the primary antagonists in the Back to the Future trilogy. It didn’t matter if it was the 50s, the 21st century or the Wild West. The Tannen family was always a thorn in the side of the Doc and Marty. Actor and comedian Thomas F. Wilson portrayed Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen, an older version of Biff Tannen and Mad Dog Tannen. There is even a glimpse of Mad Dog in Back to the Future II. Wilson was praised for his wide range of characters he played in the trilogy. After Back to the Future, Thomas F. Wilson went on to play the Coach in Freaks and Geeks. Regardless of his success he’ll always be remembered as Biff Tannen. Wilson has noted that fans of the trilogy often stop him and ask him a plethora of questions regarding the film. He was asked so many questions that he would carry a postcard around with the most frequently asked questions and answers. Eventually, he incorporated all the questions into a song.
Fun fact: the producers chose the name Tannen because they had an unpleasant relationship with an executive by the name of Ned Tannen, who was very brutal when they were trying to make the film, I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
#7 Clayton Ravine Becomes Eastwood Ravine
Back to the Future Part III is the final film in the trilogy. It starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen. The plot revolved around Marty McFly getting stranded in 1955 after Doc Brown accidently time travels to 1885. Marty must go back in time to bring his friend back to 1985 before Mad Dog Tannen kills Doc. When Marty gets to the old west he goes by the name Clint Eastwood. Doc Brown ends up falling madly in love with a teacher named Clara Clayton. However, Doc saves Clara’s life when she was about to plunge into the ravine changing past events. This changes the future, as the ravine was to be called Clayton Ravine named after the teacher that died. However, Clara Clayton doesn’t die and the ravine ends up with a different name. In order to get back to 1985 Marty and Doc have a train push the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour sending Marty back to the future and the train crashing into the ravine. When Marty gets back to 1985 he passes a sign that reads, “Eastwood Ravine”, indicating that it was named Eastwood in his honor.
#8 Jennifer Parker: Claudia Wells Replaced by Elizabeth Shue
Jennifer Parker was the pretty and sweet girlfriend of Marty McFly. All Marty wants to do is play his music and kiss Jennifer but both those end up being difficult to attain. Later, Jennifer ends up going to the future with Doc and Marty. She passes out after encountering her future self. Originally, actress Claudia Wells portrayed Jennifer in Back to the Future. She was cast in the film but was unable to take the role because an ABC pilot she had done was picked up. Eric Stoltz and Melora Hardin shot 5 weeks of footage together until production was halted. Michael J. Fox ended up with the role and Claudia was recast as Jennifer. However, Claudia’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and decided to dedicate her time to her family. She chose not to appear in the sequels and was replaced by Elisabeth Shue in both Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III. While working on Back to the Future there were absolutely no plans for any sequels. When the ending was done Robert Zemeckis had not intended for it to lead to a sequel. Later, when the sequels were confirmed Robert Zemeckis regretted having Jennifer in the scene. He would have rather started a different story but he found a way to make it work.
#9 George McFly: Crispin Glover Not In The sequels
Initially, George McFly is somewhat naïve and a pushover. However, after his son Marty goes back in time he accidentally interferes in his parents meeting and falling in love. With Marty’s help George not only wins over Lorraine, but in the process becomes brave and firm. Crispin Glover portrayed George McFly in Back to the Future. Crispin Glover appeared in several films throughout his career, such as Willard, Charlie’s Angels and Hot Tub Time Machine. However, Back to the Future has always been considered his breakout role. He was offered the opportunity to reprise his role as George in the two sequels. However, Glover and the studio could not come to terms on a deal for the sequels. Glover claims that the studio wanted to pay him half of what Lea Thompson and Thomas F. Wilson were getting paid. So the studio and Glover went their separate ways. Actor Jefferey Weissman, was cast in the role of George McFly and wore a fake chin, nose and cheekbones to better depict George. They also re-used footage of Crispin Glover from Back to the Future in Back to the Future Part II. However, they did so without his permission so Glover sued the producers of the film and won. Because of Glover and his lawsuit, a clause now exists in the Screen Actors Guild that prevents studios from doing a similar thing.
#10 Hanging From The Clock
At the end of Back to the Future, Doc Brown attempts to harness the power of a lighting bolt to send Marty McFly back in time to 1985. The lighting is set to strike the clock tower and Doc sets up a contraption to send the bolt into the DeLorean. However, at the last second one of the cables falls out and Doc climbs up the clock tower to reattach it. Doc almost falls off the tower but he hangs on. It’s one of the most iconic scenes in the film but was also paying homage to a classic film. Safety Last is a 1923 romantic silent film starring Harold Lloyd. The film is best remembered for the iconic scene of Harold Lloyd hanging from a clock tower over traffic. Safety Last is considered one of the best comedies of all time. However, even more fascinating is the fact that the climax in Back to the Future is hinted to at the very beginning of the film. The opening scene of the film is a shot of various clocks in Doc Brown’s lab. One of the clocks includes Harold Lloyd hanging from one of the clocks is in reference to Safety Last.
#11 The Original Marty McFly: Eric Stoltz
Michael J. Fox was always the first choice to play the role of Marty McFly. However, at the time Michael J. Fox was best known for his role as Alex P. Keaton on the hit sitcom, Family Ties. The producers at Family Ties refused to give Fox the time off to shoot the film. With Fox no longer being an option, the producers of Back to the Future offered the role to Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell and Eric Stoltz. Stoltz ended up getting the role and shot four to five weeks of footage for the film. However, the producers and Stoltz agreed that he wasn’t right for the film despite shooting already being underway. By this point, Michael J. Fox became available for the film so they decided to move into re-shoots, which added $3 million to the budget.
Also, Melora Hardin, who is best known for her role as Jan in the U.S. version of The Office, was originally cast as Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer. However, once Eric Stoltz was removed from the film so was Hardin because producers felt she was too tall to play opposite Michael J. Fox.
#12 Will There Be More Back To The Future films?
Just about every popular movie has been rebooted or remade. Many fans often wonder if Back to the Future will be one of those films. According to Robert Zemeicks, he’ll do everything in his power to block and prevent a Back to the Future reboot or remake. Zemeckis has approval on all films in the franchise so its unlikely we’ll get anymore Back to the Future films. Producer and co-writer Bob Gale noted that he couldn’t see anymore films without Marty McFly and that nobody but Michael J. Fox could play that role. Due to Michael J. Fox’s health condition, it’s unlikely the Fox will ever reprise the role. Christopher Lloyd said he would return for a fourth film but only with the same cast and crew as the original. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprised their roles for an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live on October 21st, 2015.
#13 Elijah Wood and Billy Zane
This might be a little more obvious but there might be some fans out there that didn’t notice Frodo Baggins and Caledon Hockley in the Back to the Future trilogy. Of course at the time of Back to the Future they were still Elijah Wood and Billy Zane. Billy Zane is an actor best known for his role as one of the antagonists in the incredibly successful film, Titanic. Billy Zane made one of his first film appearances in Back to the Future portraying Biff Tannen’s henchmen, Match.
Elijah Wood is best known for his role as Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Elijah appeared in Back to the Future II playing a kid watching Marty play the Wild Gunmen arcade game. Elijah and his friend are shocked and disgusted when they realize you have to use your hands to play the game. Elijah was 8 years old at the time.
#14 Spaceman From Pluto
Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985 to rave reviews. The first film in the trilogy received universal critical and commercial acclaim. Robert Zemeckis co-wrote and directed Back to the Future with producer Bob Gale helping with the writing. Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, was also involved. The film was a team effort but sometimes received help they never asked for. Executive Sidney Sheinberg had some interesting suggestions; some that helped the film and another that was not well received by the creators. Originally, Doc Brown was going to have a pet chimpanzee but Sidney had it changed to a dog. He also had another suggestion that shocked and appalled the creators. Sidney wanted to change the title of the film to “Spaceman From Pluto”. Sidney was convinced that no film with “future” in the title could ever be successful and the film would bomb. Zemeckis asked for Spielberg’s help dealing with Sidney. Spielberg sent a letter to Sidney acting as if he thought the new title was simply a joke and embarrassed Sidney so much that he dropped the name change.
#15 Twin Pines Mall Becomes Lone Pine Mall
Back to the Future was the first film in the trilogy and was released on July 3, 1985. The plot followed Marty McFly who is accidently sent back to the year 1955. He interferes in his parents meeting for the first time. He must then figure out a way to make his parents fall in love while trying to get back to the year 1985. When Marty goes back he ends up changing things in the future. Initially, his parents are in a loveless marriage but after Marty’s interference they become madly in love with each other. Another change that some fans might have missed is the name of the mall. Marty meets Doc at Twin Pines Mall for the time traveling experiment at the start of the film. Twin Pines Mall is named in tribute to Otis Peabody’s farm that had two distinctive pine trees on it. When Marty travels back to 1955 he ends up on Otis Peabody’s farm. Otis had dreams of raising pine trees but later his land was converted into a mall. When Marty lands on the farm he is chased away by Peabody and in the process runs over one of the pine trees. When Marty returns to 1985, he has changed the past and this is evident by the mall being named Lone Pine Mall.