List of Back to the Future characters
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The lead character of the series is Marty McFly. During the course of the trilogy, he travels through time using a DeLorean time machine invented by his friend Emmett Brown and encounters the villain, Biff Tannen, in several different time periods and visits his family ancestors and descendants.
- 1 Main characters
- 2 McFly family
- 3 Brown family
- 4 Tannen family
- 5 Strickland family
- 6 Other characters
- 7 References
Martin Seamus "Marty" McFly (portrayed by Michael J. Fox in the films and voiced by David Kaufman in the animated series and AJ LoCascio in Back to the Future: The Game) is the son of George McFly and Lorraine Baines McFly. Marty travels between the past and the future, encountering his ancestors and descendants. Marty and his friend Doc Brown help restore the space-time continuum while encountering Biff Tannen (or members of the Tannen clan) at various points in time.
Emmett "Doc" Brown
Doctor Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown (portrayed by Christopher Lloyd in the films and Back to the Future: The Game, and voiced by Dan Castellaneta in the animated series) is the inventor of the DeLorean time machine. At various points in time, Doc helps Marty restore the space-time continuum and reverse the changes that were caused by time travel.
Biff Tannen (portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in the films and animated series and voiced by Kid Beyond in Back to the Future: The Game) is a local bully who harassed George McFly and has once altered history in the second film. He comes from a long line of bullies in Hill Valley, most of whom harassed members of the McFly family. Biff is also a descendant of Buford Tannen (also portrayed by Wilson), who is one of Hill Valley's outlaws during the 1880s.
George Douglas McFly (portrayed by Crispin Glover in Back to the Future and by Jeffrey Weissman in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III and voiced by Michael X. Sommers in Back to the Future: The Game) is the father of Marty, Linda and Dave from the union with his wife Lorraine Baines McFly. George was born April 1, 1938. Although he is one of the main characters in the first movie, George only makes cameos in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III.
In the first movie, George is portrayed as weak and the main target of Biff Tannen's bullying. The novelization of the film expands on George's history of weakness, describing two incidents in which he is unable to stand up for himself. In 1955, in contrast with Marty, George did not have any friends for supports and was targeted not only by Biff and his gang but also other kids in school. He has a penchant for science fiction, and write some of his own but never allow himself to share them to anyone due to his fear of rejection. He was spying on Lorraine when he fell from a tree onto the street below and right in front of her father's car. Lorraine nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. However, after traveling to 1955, Marty inadvertently alters history when Lorraine becomes infatuated with him instead of George. Marty helps George become more confident, thus befriending him, which ultimately leads to a confrontation between George and Biff. George rescues Lorraine from Biff which causes alterations to history, to the benefit of George and his family. George becomes a successful novelist in the "improved" timeline, whose debut novel, A Match Made in Space, was based in part on an encounter with Marty who disguised himself as an alien visitor that had preceded his first date with Lorraine.
George's character was greatly reduced in the sequels, and the role was recast to Jeffrey Weissman. Weissman wore prosthetics to resemble Glover and imitated Glover's rendering of McFly, and his scenes were spliced with shots of Glover from Back to the Future. The result was a very convincing rendering of George—one so convincing, in fact, that many people were fooled by it. Glover did not appreciate this, and sued. The lawsuit resulted in the adoption of stricter rules by the Screen Actors Guild to prevent this situation from occurring again.
George makes a cameo as a 77-year-old in the year 2015. Later, Biff travels back in time and changes history. In the alternate history resulting from his actions, George is shot and killed on March 15, 1973. George's killer is never found, although Biff confessed he murdered George. Fortunately, Marty and Doc undid the damage Biff did to 1985, and by the end of Back to the Future Part II, George's murder has never taken place.
Lorraine Baines-McFly (portrayed by Lea Thompson and voiced by Aimee Miles in Back to the Future: The Game) is the wife of George McFly and the mother of Marty, Linda and Dave. In Back to the Future, Lorraine is portrayed in 1985 as middle-aged and unhappy. In 1955, Lorraine is the eldest daughter of Sam (George DiCenzo) and Stella (Frances Lee McCain) Baines, and sister of Milton (Jason Hervey), Sally (Maia Brewton), and Joey. Joey would lead a life of crime, causing his family to see him as disgraced following his arrest and repeated failure to make parole. Lorraine’s children would call Joey “Uncle ‘Jailbird’ Joey.”
After traveling to 1955, Marty inadvertently alters history when Lorraine becomes infatuated with him instead of George. Much to Marty's surprise, in 1955, Lorraine repeatedly engages in behavior she later classifies as "looking for trouble" in 1985, such as parking in cars with boys, drinking liquor and smoking.
Marty attempts to bring Lorraine and George together with a plan in which George will rescue Lorraine from Marty's physical advances. However, Biff intervenes and locks Marty in the trunk of another car and prepares to rape Lorraine. When George arrives at the parked car expecting to find Marty, he instead finds Biff. While Biff at first has the upper hand in the ensuing fight, George punches Biff, knocking him out and rescuing Lorraine. With Marty's blessing, George and Lorraine head to the school dance together where George is again able to assert himself.
After arriving back in 1985, Marty finds that his parents are both successful and happy due to George's ability to assert himself and their later successes in life. Due to Marty's actions in 1955, Lorraine is physically fit and a loving wife and mother to her family in the "improved" timeline.
In Part II, Lorraine is portrayed as still happily married to George in 2015. However, when Marty buys Gray's Sports Almanac in 2015, the 2015 Biff goes back in time giving the almanac to his 1955 counterpart, altering the future in the process so that George is instead murdered in 1973 and Lorraine is married to Biff. In the alternate universe 1985, Lorraine is an alcoholic, and caters to Biff's demands so that her children from her marriage to George along with her brother Joey (whose role in the timeline has not changed as he is still in jail) are protected due to Biff's immense wealth, power and influence, yet she still loves George and misses him terribly. According to a commentary during a deleted scene where the old Biff falls victim of a time paradox of his own actions after returning to 2015, the filmmakers had stated that Lorraine would kill Biff at some point in the mid-1990s after she discovered that he was the one who killed her husband. However, after Marty and Doc return to 1955 and thwart the old Biff's attempts, George's murder along with Lorraine's second marriage to Biff have never taken place, thus the timeline returns to as it were depicted in the ending of the first film.
David "Dave" McFly (portrayed by Marc McClure) is the eldest child of George and Lorraine McFly. In 1985 before Marty went to 1955, Dave works at Burger King, but in 1985 after Marty went to 1955, he wears a suit as a nondescript white-collar worker for an accounting firm. On a deleted scene of Part II, in the alternate timeline created by Biff, shows that Dave is an alcoholic and a gambling addict following George's death and Lorraine's second marriage to Biff. According to the DVD commentary by producers Gale and Neil Canton, the scene was deleted because Wendie Jo Sperber, who played Marty's sister Linda in the first film, was pregnant at the time and thus could not be featured in the sequel; they felt that if Marty's brother was seen, people would wonder what happened to his sister as well (with the most likely explanation being that she became a prostitute). The scene did appear, however, in the novelization.
Linda McFly (portrayed by Wendie Jo Sperber) is the middle child and only daughter of George and Lorraine McFly. In 1985 before Marty went to 1955, Linda is having boy trouble and it is unknown if she is in college or has a job. In 1985 after Marty went to 1955, Linda works in a boutique and has gained the attention of many boys.
Seamus and Maggie McFly
Seamus and Maggie McFly (portrayed by Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson) are Irish immigrants and the paternal great-great-grandparents of Marty McFly. In Part III, Marty is befriended by Seamus and Maggie when first arriving in 1885 after falling down a steep hill and crashing into their fence. While Maggie does not trust the "strange young man", Seamus has a familiar feeling about him and believes that helping him is the right thing to do. They have a son named William (Marty's great-grandfather).
Much like his descendants, Seamus is harassed by a member of the Tannen family, Buford Tannen. However, Seamus ignores Buford and dismisses his bluster as "hot air from a buffoon." Seamus's aversion to confrontation stems from the death of his brother Martin, who, like his namesake, had a short fuse when provoked and was ultimately killed when he was stabbed in a knife fight. His wisdom and positive influence provides his great-great grandson, Marty McFly, invaluable insights which help change his future for the better.
Marty entrusts Seamus with his prized gun belt, as he cannot allow his parents to see him in possession of a firearm once he returns to 1985, thus expecting it to become the McFly family's heirloom that would eventually pass back to Marty.
Maggie McFly is played by Lea Thompson, who also plays Marty's mother Lorraine, even though Maggie is not an ancestor of Lorraine; in a DVD commentary track for Part III, Bob Gale states that the creative team considered it important to include Thompson in the film, and he imagines that McFly men are simply "genetically predisposed" to be attracted to women who look like her.
Marty (Jr.) and Marlene McFly
Marty (Jr.) and Marlene McFly (both portrayed by Michael J. Fox) are Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker's future fraternal twin son and daughter in Part II. In the initial timeline, Griff Tannen and his grandfather, Biff, force Marty Jr. to participate in a robbery with Griff and his gang. A future edition of the newspaper reports that within two hours of being arrested for the crime, Marty Jr. is tried, convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. One week later, his sister Marlene is caught attempting to break him out and is sentenced to twenty years. Doc brings Marty to 2015 to save his future children. Marty has a confrontation with Griff and his gang, which Marty wins, resulting in Griff and his friends being arrested, thus preventing Marty Jr. from participating in the robbery. However, the outcome of Marty's future family is implied to be altered by the events of the third film, leaving Marty Jr. and Marlene's fates unknown.
Clara Clayton (portrayed by Mary Steenburgen in both Back to the Future Part III and the animated series) is the wife of Doc Brown and mother of Jules and Verne Brown.
Clara moved to Hill Valley on September 4, 1885 and originally died in an accident when her wagon plummets into Shonash Ravine, which was renamed Clayton Ravine in her memory. However, history is altered when Doc volunteers to pick her up, and they fall in love afterward, thus avoiding her fate. Clara pays for Doc's funeral after he is shot by Buford Tannen. After attending the Hill Valley festival together on September 5, 1885 and spending the night watching stars through her telescope, Doc and Clara discover a common fondness for the novelist Jules Verne and fall in love. When Marty returns to 1985, Doc stays in 1885 to be with Clara. Doc later builds a new time machine and travels with Clara and their two children to say goodbye once again to Marty.
The animated series reveals that Clara, along with the rest of the family, moves to the early 1990s and lives in a farmhouse outside of Hill Valley. She then becomes a teacher at Hill Valley Elementary.
Jules and Verne Brown
Jules Eratosthenes Brown and Verne Newton Brown (portrayed by Todd Cameron Brown and Daniel Evans in Back to the Future Part III and voiced by Josh Keaton and Troy Davidson in the animated series) are the two children of Doc Brown and his wife, Clara, who named them after their favourite author Jules Verne.
The characters had minor, non-speaking roles in Back to the Future Part III but were further developed in the animated series. Jules, an introvert, mostly imitates his father's interests and mannerisms while Verne appears to be more outgoing and extroverted. Several plot points of the animated series revolve around either Jules or Verne altering history and the steps necessary to correct the damage.
Copernicus is Doc's dog from 1955. He appears in the first film without his name mentioned. Later, in the third film, Doc mentions the dog's name. Like his other dogs, Copernicus was used in many of Doc's experiments. When Copernicus died, he was replaced by Einstein.
Einstein (portrayed by Freddie in the films and voiced by Danny Mann in the animated series) is Doc Brown's pet Catalan sheepdog. He later becomes one of the main characters in the animated series as the Brown family's dog.
In the first film, Einstein is placed in the time machine and successfully travels through time. Later, Doc has him placed in a suspended animation kennel when Marty travels to 2015. After Biff alters history, Marty and Doc leave him behind to correct their future. Doc initially entrusts Marty to take care of Einstein when he decided to stay in 1885, but later reclaims him after building a second time machine.
In the animated series, Einstein becomes anthropomorphic and smarter, helping Doc with his inventions for traveling to the past and the future.
Irving "Kid" Tannen
Kid Tannen is the father of Biff who only appears in the Back to the Future game. Kid is a gangster who runs a local speakeasy in the 1930s Hill Valley. He, like the rest of the Tannen family, bullies the McFly family forcing Marty's grandfather Arthur to do his accounting. Kid is brought down with the help of Marty, a young version of Doc, and Arthur McFly.
Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen
Buford Tannen (portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in Back to the Future Part III) is the great-grandfather of Biff Tannen. He was nicknamed "Mad Dog" by a newspaper reporter, due to his violent temper and propensity for drooling. Buford bragged that he had killed 12 men, not including Indians or Chinamen (indicating that his actual body count is higher), however, detailed records of Buford's activities in the later part of the 1880s are hard to find, as in 1884, Buford killed a newspaper editor who wrote an unfavorable story about him. He is often accompanied by his gang (played by Christopher Wynne, Sean Sullivan, and Mike Watson). Though feared by the town's populace, only Seamus McFly, Doc Brown and Marty McFly are not intimidated by his behaviors, leading Buford to harass them. He also develops a feud with Marshal James Strickland and his deputies.
When Doc Brown accidentally travels back in time to 1885, he works as a blacksmith. On September 5, 1885, at the town festival, Buford shoots him in the back with a Derringer due to a thrown shoe that led to the loss of Buford's horse and whiskey. Due to the lack of advanced medical technology in 1885, Doc lies in pain and dies two days later on September 7. When Marty arrives on September 2, 1885, Buford and his gang try to lynch him, but Doc saves him. As in the previous timeline, Buford tries to kill Doc during the town festival, but Marty saves him. On September 7, the day after Buford robs a Pine City Stagecoach, Buford challenges Marty to a shootout. On the day of the shootout, after Marty refuses to confront him, Buford captures Doc, but Marty defeats Buford, and Buford is arrested for the robbery.
In a deleted scene, while Buford and his gang are approaching town, Marshal Strickland and his son attempt to stop him from going to confront Marty. Buford shoots Strickland's shotgun out of his hand and orders his son to drop his weapon. The son complies, and Buford orders the two to ride on out unarmed for a few hours so that he can be alone for his duel with Marty. However, after Strickland and his son pass them, Buford suddenly turns on them and shoots Strickland in the back. Strickland falls off his horse, fatally wounded, while Buford and his gang continue on their way. With his last breath, Strickland tells his son, "Remember that word, son: discipline," to which the son replies, "I will, pa." This deleted scene, if retained in the film would explain why Buford is arrested by Strickland's deputy instead of by Strickland himself. In the deleted scene commentary, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale explained that the scene was cut because they felt the scene was too dark, and that it would likely result in Buford being hanged (or even Marty killing Buford in retribution), preventing Biff from being born (although given that Biff lives with his grandma in 1955, it is possible that Biff's grandmother Gertrude is Buford's daughter and was alive in 1885). As originally filmed, the arrest scene had the deputy arresting Buford for the marshal's murder. However, when the deleted scene was cut, the dialogue was changed so that Buford is arrested for the Pine City stagecoach robbery that he and his gang carried out offscreen. This also explains why in that scene, when the deputy says, "for robbing the Pine City Stage," the camera cuts to Doc and Marty, as he originally said, "for the murder of Marshal Strickland." The deleted scene was retained in the novelization of the film.
Griff (portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in both Back to the Future Part II and in the animated series) is part of a gang that also consists of "Data", "Spike", and "Whitey" (portrayed by Ricky Dean Logan, Darlene Vogel, and Jason Scott Lee).
On October 21, 2015, Griff and his gang originally force Marty McFly, Jr. to rob the Hill Valley Payroll Substation. Marty Jr. reluctantly agrees but inadvertently sets off the alarm and is sentenced to 15 years in prison. History is altered when Marty, posing as his son, refuses to cooperate, leading to a hoverboard chase across the courtyard square. Griff and his gang crash into the Courthouse Mall and are arrested while Marty escapes unharmed.
In the animated series, Griff makes a brief cameo appearance in one episode where his grandson, Ziff, is detained after he attempts to sabotage Marta McFly's space cruiser.
Griff's last name is never mentioned in the movies, meaning that he could either be the son of Biff's son Biff Jr, or the son of Biff's daughter, Tiffaney.
In the first film, Strickland catches Marty and Jennifer sneaking into school late. Strickland scolds Marty for hanging around with Doc and notes that Marty's band is auditioning for the dance that evening, commenting that he is a "slacker" like his father. When Marty travels to 1955 and runs into Strickland, he is also not impressed with Marty's playing. In 1955, Strickland looks almost identical to his older self, leading Marty to comment "did that guy ever have hair?" (although it is possible to see that in 1955, Strickland does have some hair around the back of his head).
In the second film, while in the altered 1985, Marty runs into Strickland in front of his house. Strickland assumes that Marty is the person who was stealing his newspapers, keeping him at bay with a shotgun. Marty learns from Strickland that the high school had been destroyed by a fire in 1979 in that altered timeline, and Strickland is immediately attacked by rogue thugs on Biff's payroll. Strickland survives the onslaught and returns gunfire as Marty runs for it. Later when Marty and Doc go back to 1955, he unknowingly interferes with Marty as he attempts to destroy the Sports Almanac and restore the space-time continuum.
In the animated series, Mr. Strickland becomes the Dean of Hill Valley College and he is also an Army soldier when Marty travels into the 1940s.
James Strickland (portrayed by James Tolkan in Back to the Future Part III) is the chief marshal of Hill Valley in 1885 and the grandfather of Mr. Strickland. He also has an unnamed son (portrayed by Kaleb Henley), who will become Mr. Strickland's father. In the third film, Strickland breaks up a confrontation between Buford and Marty at the town festival.
In a deleted scene Buford murders Strickland. The murder is included in the film's novelization by Craig Shaw Gardner, and this piece of information is later introduced in Back to the Future: The Game, when interacting with Edna's Strickland's photo of James. Marty says that he does not remember the murder happening during his trip to 1885, a subtle nod to the fact that the scene was cut from the final film.
Edna Strickland, in Back to the Future: The Game, is the sister of Gerald Strickland. She is somewhat nicer than her brother, but still set in her ways towards upholding strong morals and abolishing crime and laziness.
Marty first meets her when he finds a shoe in the returned DeLorean and uses Einstein to find its owner, the elderly Edna, who lost it when Kid Tannen's speakeasy burned down in 1931. He learns of Doc Brown's death at Tannen's hands from Edna's large collection of newspapers and goes to 1931 to save him.
In 1931, he meets a younger Edna, an upstanding member of Hill Valley society, who is a reporter, and a founder of the "Stay Sober Society", a sort of lesser-day Alcoholics Anonymous. She is unwittingly heavily involved in Marty's plan to save Doc, and later, is involved in Marty's attempts to save his future grandfather, Arthur McFly, from being whacked by Tannen.
Unfortunately, Marty's meddling changes the timeline in Edna's favor, as she marries Doc, drives him from his love of science, and together, they change Hill Valley into a totalitarian nightmare solely based off her beliefs. Marty eventually snaps Doc out of it, making Edna try to kill Marty with the Delorean, only for Doc to get in the way and get killed. In order to stop this, Marty returns to 1931 and ends their relationship. Unfortunately, she manages to travel back to 1876, when Hill Valley was founded, and burns it to the ground accidentally. When Marty and Doc find her, they learn that she also burned down the speakeasy. They manage to prevent the arson and return with her to 1931, where she is arrested for the arson. In jail, she falls for Kid and in the revised 1986, is his wife and Biff's stepmother.
Jennifer Jane Parker is the girlfriend (and, in 2015 in Back to the Future Part II, the wife) of Marty McFly.
The character was played by Claudia Wells in Back to the Future and Back to the Future: The Game. Wells was not available to film the sequels for personal reasons, and the role was recast to Elisabeth Shue although Wells reprised her role as Jennifer in Back to the Future: The Game as a punk rock version of her character. Consequently, the final scene of Back to the Future, which leads to Back to the Future Part II and which is shown at the beginning of that movie, was re-shot with Shue taking Wells' place. In the spin-off Back to the Future: the Animated Series, Jennifer was voiced by Cathy Cavadini.
In 1985, Jennifer attends Hill Valley High School, along with her boyfriend Marty. At the end of Back to the Future, Emmett Brown takes her and Marty to 2015. While there, Jennifer gets a glimpse of her possible future with Marty, learning that Marty was involved in a car accident that ruined his life. Jennifer married him out of pity rather than love, in a ceremony about which her time-traveling self is horrified to learn. After returning to 1985, Jennifer initially thought her visit in 2015 was a dream, but realizes the truth after seeing Marty's reactions when they are talking about it. However, this future was undone at the end of Back to the Future Part III, and the new future of Jennifer and Marty is implied to be a much brighter one.
In the animated series, Jennifer lives with her family on a ranch, the deed to the which was owned by Biff Tannen, after one of his ancestors forced Jennifer's great-great-grandfather to sign it over by holding Jennifer's great-great-grandmother hostage. In the episode "A Friend in Deed", Marty travels back in time to 1875 and sabotages the deal.
In the future witnessed in Back to the Future Part II, Jennifer and Marty had two children, Marlene and Marty Jr. (both played by Michael J. Fox) According to the animated series episode "Solar Sailor", she also has a great-granddaughter, Marta McFly, in the year 2091.
Douglas J. Needles
Douglas J. Needles (portrayed by Flea in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III) is an acquaintance of Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker from Hill Valley High School. Like his school's alumni, Biff Tannen, Needles also has his own set of gang (portrayed by Christopher Wynne, J.J. Cohen, and Ricky Dean Logan), and develops a feud with Marty.
Needles originally goaded Marty into a street race by calling him "chicken" on October 27, 1985, causing Marty to crash his new Toyota pickup into a Rolls-Royce, and later bullies Marty into participating in a shady business deal, which causes Marty to be fired from his future job. However, after the events of Back to the Future Part III, Marty avoids the street race, altering the future in his own favor.
Goldie Wilson (played by Donald Fullilove in part 1) is a young man working at Lou's Cafe in 1955 who goes on to become the first black Mayor of Hill Valley in the 1980s. A campaign poster shows the name Goldie in quotation marks, suggesting Goldie is a nickname, presumably in reference to his gold tooth. Some Hill Valley's residents are not happy with Wilson's term as mayor, because of his plans to replace the clock from the courthouse's clock tower, leading some activists from the Hill Valley Preservation Society to try to save it. One of its members (played by Elsa Raven) eventually gives Marty the flyer which contains the information he and Doc need in 1955. By the time of 2015, even though Wilson no longer in the office, there are people still try to carry out his initiative to replace the clock. He would also have a grandson, Goldie Wilson III (also played by Fullilove) in Part II, who works as a car salesman.
Match, Skinhead, and 3-D
Match (portrayed by Billy Zane), Skinhead (portrayed by Jeffrey Jay Cohen), and 3-D (portrayed by Casey Siemaszko) are the three high school boys who make up Biff Tannen's gang in 1955. Their nicknames are only given in the films' novels, screenplays, and credits. Only one of their real names is mentioned in the movies – Biff refers to Skinhead as Joey in one of the 1955 scenes in Back to the Future Part II, while outside of the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance.
In the alternate 1985, the three work in Biff's casino as his bodyguards. It is unknown what became of them in the true timeline, though a boy resembling Skinhead was seen in Needles' gang in Back to the Future Part III (Possibly Skinhead's son).
Each gets his nickname from a distinctive character trait. Match often has a match sticking out of his mouth; Skinhead has very short, close-cropped hair; 3-D is always wearing a pair of anaglyphic 3-D glasses (a reference to the 3-D movies that were popular in the 1950s).
- "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- Jeffrey Weissman at the Internet Movie Database
- Glover Clarifies “Back to the Future” Squabble at BTTF.com.
- Telltale, Incorporated (December 22, 2010). Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time. Level/area: May 14, 1986, 6:42 pm - Edna's apartment - "Pictures". "Marty McFly: Is that... Vice Principal Strickland? Edna Strickland: Mother never could keep little Gerald out of her clothes..."
- A Friend in Deed episode recap at TV.com.
- Solar Sailors episode recap at TV.com.