Back to the Future Part III
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Back to the Future Part III can be found here.

There are three movies in the Back to the Future franchise. Back to the Future Part III was preceded by Back to the Future (1985) and Back to the Future Part II (1989).

There are 3 timelines: (1) The original timeline with NO Marty or Doc in 1885.Clara turns up at the station. There is no one to meet her. She hires a buckboard and heads into town. Horse gets spooked by a snake and Clara falls into the ravine. The ravine is named "Clayton Ravine" in her honor. This is the timeline Marty and Doc know, as they were from a future AFTER these events. (2) The first alt timeline with only Doc in 1885. Doc meets Clara at the station, and they fall in love. Doc gets shot in the back by Buford and dies. Clara lives on in this timeline and erects the tombstone and has inscribed on it "Erected in eternal memory by his beloved Clara." This is the tombstone Marty photographs in 1955. That tombstone would not exist in 1955 until the very second Doc gets sent to 1885, which is why it was not seen before. (3) The second alternate timeline with Marty AND Doc in 1885, and the one in BttF III. This timeline is a mix of the first two. Doc gets asked to meet Clara and he agrees, except this time Marty turns up and he forgets about meeting her. So Clara hires a buckboard and heads into town. Snake, ravine...but this time Doc is there to "save" her. They fall in love.."Eastwood Ravine".

Now for the ravine's name in the 2nd timeline. There are two possibilities: (1) When Marty tells the story of "Clayton Ravine", he is talking from his memories from BEFORE Doc gets sent to 1885 and BEFORE Doc saves Clara. So from Marty's point of view, it would still have been called "Clayton Ravine", even if it was not after Doc saved Clara. But Marty would not know this as he came from the "original" timeline where it was still called "Clayton Ravine". The only way Marty would know what the ravine was called AFTER Doc saved Clara would be to time travel to a point AFTER these events but before the train crash at the end of the film. He does not, so he keeps his original memory of the ravine. What the ravine is called in 1885 from that point (but before "Eastwood") is irrelevant, as Marty would only remember it being called "Clayton Ravine" anyway. (2) Clara (after Doc dies) throws herself into the ravine through depression after losing her true love. The townfolk call the ravine "Clayton Ravine" as they feel sorry for Clara. So even in the 2nd timeline, it's possible for the ravine to have still been called "Clayton Ravine".

Remember, Doc's a pretty smart guy & would've known the best way to store the DeLorean in the cave would be to drain it's fuel tank before burying it, in order to prevent the fuel from rotting or otherwise damaging the machine over the next 70 years it was entombed. Also, gas is flammable, and could have resulted in the DeLorean exploding. Before Marty left 1955, Doc mentioned how he had just refilled the car with gas - confirming that it had been buried without any. They could not have taken parts from the DeLorean either, because it would mean that those parts would be missing when Marty and Doc found it in 1955. The time machine had been made in the 80s, and many of its parts would probably not be available in 1955, resulting in the time machine being unable to bring Marty back to 1885 in the first place. Another theory as to why Doc and Marty did not take the fuel injection manifold from the DeLorean stored in the mine is that the concoction the bartender gave to Doc had already blown the fuel injection manifold and replacing it would be pointless as there was no other fuel alternative they could have used.

Doc had obviously found another way to make the train work ("It runs on steam!"), not necessarily via the flux capacitor. In the many years he spent in the past, he could have had time to invent an alternative way to do it. Alternatively, Doc could have just created a basic time machine, gone to the future, and then used future technology to modify it and make it into what we saw at the end of Part 3. (which he clearly did, in order to have a Hover-Conversion done at the very least: Marty- "Where you goin' now Doc, the future?" Doc- "Already been there.") The DeLorean was only a "prototype". The train was powered very differently. So Doc could have developed a new way to make time travel possible vastly different to how the DeLorean worked. Additionally, in BTTF II, Doc tells Marty that he went to a rejuvenation clinic and got a "whole natural overhaul" where he "added a good 30-40 years to his life." It is quite possible that Doc lived long enough to acquire the time train's parts once the means to manufacture them has become available in the 20th century. Then he simply could have returned to some point after Marty left 1885 to give himself the required parts.

However, the most likely way that he managed to turn a locomotive into a time machine is to use the DeLorean that he had first arrived in. Remember, the DeLorean was buried in the abandoned mine for Marty to find in 1955. When Doc was left behind in 1885 with Clara, he could have gone back to the DeLorean that he had first arrived in and taken out the flux capacitor and all the other necessary parts to create a time machine. He could have then used these parts to convert a locomotive into a time machine and travelled into the future. He would need to go far enough to at least be able to obtain all the parts necessary to build a new flux capacitor and replace all the other parts he had taken. Next, he would then have to go back to the abandoned mine at some point in time before 1955 so he can replace the flux capacitor and anything else. As long as he does this before 1955, the DeLorean is ready for Marty to find.

The BTTF writers said that this was just due to McFly men being attracted to the same kind of women: in fact, it has been observed by scientists that men often marry women who resemble their mothers, and women marry men who resemble their fathers. One example of this is Jennifer resembling young Lorraine somewhat. They also said they did not think it would be right to not give Lea Thompson a role in the movie. So it was added to also give Lea a bigger role than if she wasn't the wife.

Marty: "where are you going Doc, back to the future?" Doc: "No, already been there." So Doc does not go to the future, he clearly does not stay in the present. Judging by Doc's letter he sent to Marty at the end of BttF II. Doc was more than happy living in 1885. Keeping in mind, he wrote this letter BEFORE meeting Clara. So it stands to reason he would go back to where he was most happy and live with Clara and now his kids. Another, more fanciful, theory is that Doc took his family to the moon. Doc and Clara had a short conversation in the movie where they discuss their favorite authors and the possibility of someday traveling to the moon, which leads to this being a possibility. While the idea that they're flying a train to the moon may seem ridiculous, keep in mind that a flying Delorean in part 1 seemed very far-fetched and fantastic too, until part 2 come along and explained it.

There are a couple of factors to base a timeline on: (1) According to the BTTF Wiki, Doc and Clara married on December 15 (about 14 weeks after Marty's departure). Their son Jules was born sometime in 1886 and Verne in 1888. When they appear in 1985, they look to be about 9-10 and 7-8, respectively, and (2)The locomotive used, the Sierra No. 3, was first manufactured in 1896. This would suggest approximately 11 years had passed between the events of Sept. 7, 1885 and the Brown family finding Marty in 1985. Assuming Doc would troubleshoot the technology in his workshop and then choose the very newest engine model of the day to create the finished time machine, this timeline holds plausibility.

A factor overlooked is the major difference in the technology levels between 1955, when the flux capacitator was devised, and 1985 when it was successfully built. Doc had 30 years to make it work. In 1885, Doc brown had the full knowledge of how to create a flux capacitator that worked, but lacked the means and technology for make a time machine that would work. It makes sense that he would take his time and build a machine capable of a one way trip to at the very least 2015. From there it could have taken him 3-4 years to perfect his Steam Powered Time Machine,and then in an instance return to the moment he left. This also explains why it has the hover wheels like the DeLorean. Since he was at that point capable of moving freely, then we can never know the exact amount of time of it took. Another overlooked factor is that in 1885, after Marty finally returns home in the 1955/1885 modded DeLorean, Doc still had the 2015 modded DeLorean in storage somewhere. Though it has been stated in the films that the lightning overloaded the time circuits, it can be assumed that he would at the very least have a non working flux capacitator on his hands that he could continue to tweak in order to make it work again. He was smart enough to draw up a schematic of what would work in 1955, so we can speculate that he would know what to attempt to build himself in the 1885 shop.

Not necessarily. For example, early in the film, Marty took a photograph of Doc's tombstone as it appeared in Doc's original 1885 storyline. After Marty goes back in time to help him, the tombstone does not disappear, but the writing fades away. This suggests that the future is not "set in stone" (pun intended), but is still unresolved. It is not until that particular tombstone is destroyed when Marty defeats Tannen that it vanishes from the polaroid. In much the same way, some parts of the future will likely not change: the company that Marty worked for in the original 2015 will still exist, and he may still work for them -- and on a cellular level, that piece of paper will still be manufactured. However, the fact that Jennifer even has that particular piece of fax paper in her possession leads one to assume that some event in the future occurs that causes her to retain the paper, regardless of whatever changes in the past are made. Ultimately, Marty and Jennifer will not make enough changes in their life to completely separate them from the original 2015 timeline and the fax paper still exist and is in Jennifer's possession.

This could be deduced simply by looking up lot maps from the period. Historians, archaeologists and metal detectorists use them to plot where houses used to be in order to find good places to search for artifacts. It is presumable that Doc would have studied these maps to find an open, out-of-the-way spot to send Marty back, in order to avoid both possible collisions (like in the first film) and being seen. He could have done this while they were looking for information on Doc (when they find both pictures of Marty's family and Doc by the clock) or at a later point before, or even after, he completed the repairs to the DeLorean, which would take at least a couple of days anyway, even if Doc had all of the parts he needed for this task (as well as the tires, break fluid, power-steering fluid, transmission fluid, and motor oil), some of which would be hard, or outright impossible, to obtain in 1955, since the vehicle was manufactured in the 1980s. And as far as trees go -- it's the desert. Also, this could be a reference to Doc's speech to Marty in the first film about how the area that the Twin Pine Mall was located in used to be "farmlands as far as the eye could see." Possibly. The location of the Drive-In was surrounded by a Desert... you don't just make a desert landscape... those are usually already there... If it was out in the middle of nowhere, the only possible issue would a random farm that was never, ever documented.

Apparently, a crew member was making a gesture off-camera and the actor playing Verne was copying him

Was Needles Biff's Son?

No, he is not Biff's son. During the scene between old Marty and old Needles in 2015 (right before Marty gets fired) a lot of information about Needles is displayed on screen. One of those is his name: Douglas J. Needles, not Tannen. It states that he has two children, both girls (Roberta, 23, and Amy, 20). Since the information next displayed is his food preferences, it is safe to assume those are his only children.

By the end of the first movie, Marty is just one week older. He entered 1955 on November 5th at 6:00 A.M., and then left November 12th at 10:04 P.M., which totals one week, 16 hours, four minutes. Marty re-enters the timeline 10 minutes earlier, thus making him one week, 16 hours, 14 minutes older than he was on October 26th, 1985, at 1:24 A.M. when he left. At the start of Back to the Future Part II, Marty, Jennifer, and Doc travel to October 21st, 2015, spending less than a day there. Then they go back to the alternate 1985 for just a few hours. We know that the two events take about a day for Marty and Doc from the dialog upon their arrival in 1955, "This is heavy, Doc. It's like I was just here yesterday." "You were here yesterday, Marty. You were!" Marty spends all of November 12th getting the book back. So, at the end of that movie, Marty has aged two more days. In Back to the Future Part III, Marty and Doc spend November 13th finding and fixing up the DeLorean. Then on November 14th, Marty travels back to September 2nd, 1885. Marty is there with Doc until the morning of September 7th. Adding up the time spent in all three movies and approximating a bit, Marty spent a total of about 16 days outside his own timeline.

Given that Mr. Strickland would have then been at least 100 years old in the first film, this is highly unlikely. The boy is likely to be Mr. Strickland's future father, and the emphasis on discipline is likely to be a family tradition.

The itv-Version is missing 33.32 seconds due to 6 cuts and features 2 segments with muted/changed audio to remove some cussing. There is additional time difference due to a longer black screen at the beginning of the DVD and marginal cuts before each commercial break in the itv-Version (mostly under 1 second). A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

Even though Doc was a scientist he was still a wacky eccentric who often contradicted himself throughout the trilogy. However, there's reasoning behind his thinking here. The two situations were completely different. The situation with Marty's family in the future was completely out of Marty's hands. His son was a wimp who let himself be bullied into a robbery, his daughter tried to break him out, and they both spent many years in jail - starting a chain reaction of events that destroyed Marty's family. The situation with the drag race was a fate that Marty himself had to take full responsibility for. All it required was for Marty to be mature enough to not be goaded into anything dangerous by Needles, just because he was called a chicken. Doc still may have ended up telling Marty about the incident but after the situation with Buford (who Marty was prepared to walk away from and only challenged because Doc had been captured) Doc was probably confident enough that Marty had matured enough to walk away from insults.

Page last updated by myturn21, 2 months ago
Top 5 Contributors: J McClane, Anakin_McFly, darkthunder84, theobsidiandude, zarrod

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