Biff Tannen

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Biff Tannen
Back to the Future character
Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen in 1955
First appearanceBack to the Future (1985)
Last appearanceBack to the Future: The Game (2011)
Portrayed byThomas F. Wilson
Voiced byThomas F. Wilson (animated series, Telltale videogame, 2015-re-release)
Kid Beyond (Telltale videogame, original release)
Time travel
Original time1955, 1985, 1985A, 2015
Years visited1955 (from 2015)

Biff Howard Tannen is a fictional character in the Back to the Future trilogy. Thomas F. Wilson plays Biff in all three films as well as the Universal Studios ride, and voiced the character in the animated series. He is the main antagonist of the first two films, and a minor character in the third film.

The character is portrayed as a towering, violent and aggressive bully who obtains what he wants by intimidating others into doing his work for him, or by cheating. He and his family members are shown to misuse idioms in a way that makes them appear stupid and pathetic despite their intention to insult or scare. His favorite insult is "butthead".

Character biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Biff was born in Hill Valley, California. He is the great-grandson of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen and grandfather of Griff Tannen. Rather than studying in high school, he prefers to bully George McFly into doing his homework for him while he drinks and hangs out with his friends. Feared by most of his schoolmates, he is less brave without his gang (Match, Skinhead, and 3-D). The only person at Hill Valley High school that Biff is afraid of is Mr. Strickland. He has been living with his grandmother, Gertrude Tannen, at 1809 Mason Street for some time by November 1955.


In 1955, Biff had a crush on Lorraine Baines who does not return the sentiments. However, the alternate 1985 reveals that Lorraine, widowed after the murder of George McFly, ended up marrying Biff so her children could live a better life. In the original 1985, Biff's marital status is unknown as no mention of a wife was ever made in the trilogy.[1]


By 2015, Biff has a teenage grandson, Griff, suggesting that Biff had at least one child by 1985. The animated series reveals that Biff has a son, Biff Jr.

Character creation[edit]

The character is named for studio executive Ned Tanen following an incident years earlier where Tanen reacted aggressively to a script being pitched by the film's writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis. Tanen accused the two of attempting to produce an antisemitic work with their 1978 film I Wanna Hold Your Hand.[2][3] Drafts of Back to the Future show the character with the middle initial of "H", but this detail was omitted in further revisions.

As the films' important October 2015 date approached, commentators began noting the similarities between the older version of the character and then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump. When the comparison was brought to Gale's attention in an interview, he stated that elements of Tannen's personality were actually based on Trump who was already well known in the late 1980s for real estate and tabloid controversies.[4][5]


  1. ^ "Back To The Future". March 18, 1952. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  2. ^ Freer, Ian. "The making of Back to the Future", Empire (magazine), January 2003.
  3. ^ "Q&A with Director Robert Zemeckis & Producer Bob Gale","Back to the Future DVD –, Bonus Materials
  4. ^ Collins, Ben (October 21, 2015). "'Back to the Future' Writer: Biff Tannen Is Based on Donald Trump". Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  5. ^ Stuart, Tessa (October 21, 2015). "'Back to the Future' Writer: Biff Is Donald Trump". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 30, 2019. Retrieved April 27, 2019.

External links[edit]