Greetings, time travellers! As you are now reading this very list, you’re undoubtedly a fan of the adventures of the Back to the Future Trilogy, which represent some of the best sci-fi movies ever created! Well buckle up, as we’re about to hit 88 miles per hour, celebrating the many memorable quotes and moments that stand the test of time.
You can’t talk about Back to the Future without mentioning how Doctor Emmett L. Brown (Christopher Lloyd) uses this catchphrase to show wonder and amazement. Or, in other cases, “Great Scott!” sometimes means something pretty heavy’s gone down. Either way, it’s hard not to think of those words when recalling the man himself.
Doc Brown’s House Of Scientific Junk
The opening of 1985’s Back to the Future is a pretty effective montage that sums up Doc’s life pretty nicely. Showcasing many inventions, honors, and even that gigantic amp that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) blows out before school, there’s infinite possibilities when it comes to what’s hiding among the “junk.”
1985 Marty Discovers The Hoverboard
Back to the Future’s story has a lot of callbacks that echo moments from the iconic first film. And in some cases, like when 1985 Marty discovers the Hoverboard in Back to the Future: Part II, those recurring themes amp up those familiar moments. Even old Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) couldn’t help but feel deja vu when Marty used that toy of the future to evade Griff Tannen’s gang.
Mad Dog Buford Tannen Helps Marty Invent The Moonwalk
A lot of cultural touchstones are surprisingly invented throughout the history of Back to the Future. That comes from Marty just acting naturally when put into a scenario like being forced by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen to dance. And what’s the first dance that comes to mind to a kid from 1985?
Marty’s Arrival In 2015
The future of Back to the Future: Part II is clearly an invention of an imagination based in the 1980s. But while the Cubbies did come close to going all the way that year, and we’re not even close to Jaws 19, seeing Marty arrive in 2015 is still a mindblower. If only because it’s fun to compare the present with this vision of the future.
October 21, 1985: The First Time Travel Experiment
One of the red letter days in history, how Back to the Future’s time travel works comes from this very moment in the first entry of director Robert Zemeckis’ classic adventure. The Flux Capacitor, the speed needed to conduct time travel, everything you needed to know came from this beautiful, awe-inspiring moment.
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need…roads.”
At the end of Back to the Future, we’re all ready to see Marty and Jennifer (Claudia Wells) settle down for a peaceful weekend at the lake. But then, like a bolt out of time, Doc Brown proclaims that “something’s gotta be done” about their kids. Which leads Doc to drop this all-timer line that set up the future so perfectly.
Biff Tannen’s Hill Valley
If you ever need a lesson on why time travel is such a dangerous thing, watch Back to the Future: Part II. Time paradoxes, and alternate timelines, become a matter of importance when Biff Tannen takes over Hill Valley, becoming its big wheel in Tangent 1985. A wasteland where George McFly’s dead and Doc Brown is institutionalized, it’s the last place Marty McFly would ever want to be.
George And Lorraine’s First Kiss
Making sure you still exist in the grand scheme of things is one of those pitfalls of traveling to the past. And the moment that Marty McFly and his siblings hinge upon is that time where George McFly (Crispin Glover) and Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson) shared their first kiss at the “Enchantment Under The Sea” dance. Talk about a scene where time actually felt like it stopped, and for a very sweet reason.
“This is heavy.”
Marty McFly’s future speak tends to confuse people in 1955, and Doc Brown is one of the most frequent victims. Throwing down this ‘80s piece of slang, Back to the Future’s hero is trying to say that the situation is serious, close to dire. Whereas Doc, the lovable eccentric that he is, thinks something’s wrong with gravity in 1985.
Marty Saves Doc’s Life While Inventing The Frisbee
Back to the Future: Part III has one of those classic moments where it feels like a Terminator-style Ontological Paradox has shown itself in our timeline. With Marty using a “Frisbie’s” pie plate to save Doc’s life, ruining Mad Dog Tannen’s attempt to murder Doctor Brown may be similar to the scenario where Kyle Reese becomes John Connor’s father.
Doc’s Western Union Telegram Reaches Marty
This has to be one of the best moments in Back to the Future history, and in pop culture cinema in general. With the audience being led to believe that Doc Brown died at the end of Part II, we soon learn that he’s alive and well in 1885! That knowledge is delivered through a fateful Western Union telegram, with Marty’s expression of joy speaking for us all.
George Gets A Visit From Darth Vader Of The Planet Vulcan
Among the differences from Back to the Future’s first draft was an ending where Marty McFly cancels out the invention of Rock n’ Roll. While we don’t see anything that wild at the end of the first movie, there is a question of whether or not Star Trek or Star Wars exists in Marty’s world, as his prank to get young George McFly to ask Lorraine Baines out on a date included this copyright nightmare that almost wasn’t.
ZZ Top Plays The Hill Valley Festival
Professional musicians in movies is no strange feat, be it in cameos like Back to the Future: Part III’s Hill Valley Festival band, or in full on starring roles. On the briefer side of that coin, fans of ‘80s rock group ZZ Top were treated to an 1885 version of their song “Doubleback,” complete with the usual instrument flip the boys were known for.
Johnny B. Goode Premieres At The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance
“You know that new sound you’re lookin’ for? Well listen to this?” That famous line saw Marvin Berry (Harry Waters Jr.) introducing his cousin Chuck to the sweet sounds of “Johnny B. Goode,” which debuted at the “Enchantment Under The Sea” Dance. While Marty digressed into a more heavy metal version that 1955’s kids weren’t ready for yet; their kids were bound to love it.
“I’m back… I’m back from the future.”
We could practically make a list of “Great Scott” moments that landed in the Back to the Future trilogy, as there’s so many pitfalls and perils that Marty and Doc had to work through. And you could bet one of the top entries would come from Part II, when 1985 Marty tells Doc that he’s back from the future and stuck in 1955.
“What’s wrong, McFly? Chicken?”
Though it feels like something that’s been a part of the franchise’s fabric since square one, Back to the Future: Part II is the film in which we’re introduced to the world calling Marty McFly “chicken.” Starting with Griff Tannen and being repeated by frenemy Needles (Flea) and Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, each instance has become a consistent reference in the overall story of Marty’s journey.
Biff And The Gang Crash Into The Manure Truck
Oh Biff. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he hangs around with a group of buttheads, Back to the Future truly establishes him as a creep and a bully. That status makes the repeated history of himself, and his ancestors, crashing into manure trucks even more hysterical; as it couldn’t have happened to a worse guy!
Doc And Marty’s Photo With The Clock Tower’s Face
While the series is a mix of wide-eyed optimism and well-timed snark, Back to the Future: Part III has to be one of the most sentimental entries. Even with Doc Brown meeting his past self in Part II, the moment where Doc and Marty take a picture in front of the face of the future Hill Valley clock tower is a beautiful full circle moment that never misses your heart.
1985 Doc Brown Has A Heart To Heart With 1955 Doc
For someone who goes around warning everyone about the dangers of time travel, Doc Brown certainly likes to break his own rules. Not only does he use a bulletproof vest to save himself in 1985, but in Back to the Future: Part II, he talks to his 1955 counterpart for a spell. Rule breaking and dangerous paradoxes aside, it’s a heartwarming moment where the same person learns from themselves in a most peculiar way.
“He’s an idiot!”
Ok, so you may or may not remember this line from Back to the Future: Part III, and there’s a good reason for that. This is the climactic moment where Marty waves off Mad Dog Tannen’s taunts and sticks up for himself with three simple words. If you grew up on the TV edit, this is the version you’d remember better, as the theatrical cut was a bit more profane.
“If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
One of the greatest pearls of wisdom from Back to the Future happens to be this oft repeated phrase. Inspiring George McFly to go out with Lorraine Baines, Marty takes this piece of wisdom from Doc, and gifts it to his future father. Which, in turn, sets George on the path to becoming a well-known sci-fi author, spouting that wisdom right back to his son.
Marty Learns A Lesson From His Great-Great-Grandparents
Through meeting his great-great grandparents Seamus and Maggie McFly (Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson), young Marty eventually learned a thing or two about standing on your own two feet. Thanks to that inspiration, the man known as “Clint Eastwood” not only avoids being shot down in Back To The Future: Part III, but Marty also avoids the tragic accident that ends his music career.
Marty Seeing How His Trip To 1955 Affected His Family
The ending to Back to the Future is — believe it or not — a source of controversy. While Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson were both upset with the McFlys’ newfound wealth, it can’t be denied that it was a huge shift from the versions of those people we were used to. It’s still one of the biggest third act twists that sticks the landing each time when we see how the changes Marty made to the past affected his family in the present.
Marty Learns A Lesson From Clint Eastwood
While he advises Doc to use an actual bulletproof vest in Back to the Future, a moment from Back to the Future: Part II suggests that he learned a thing or two from Clint Eastwood before heading to the old west. Pulling the same move the western icon used in A Fistful of Dollars, which is the movie Tangent 1985 Biff is watching in the hot tub before their confrontation, Marty saves himself once and for all in Back to the Future: Part III.
Doc And Clara’s Happy Ending
While Marty McFly is technically the protagonist of Back to the Future, seeing Part III not only allow Doc Brown to fall in love with his beloved Clara (Mary Steenburgen), but also wind up happily ever after with her was a total delight. Giving Marty and Jennifer one last word of advice to make their future a good one, the family Brown sped off into time, in a very happy ending.
The McFly Family Of The Future
Between seeing how Marty and Jennifer aged, and how Michael J. Fox played both his own son and daughter in Back to the Future: Part II, the contents of this moment are only matched by the special effects trickery that made it possible. You never forget the first time you saw the McFlys around the same dinner table in 2015.
Doctor Emmett L. Brown landed his “eureka” moment twice in Back to the Future, as he noted both the speed and voltage needed to execute time travel. But out of those two moments, “1.21 Gigawatts!” is probably the more memorable; and that’s only because of how Christopher Lloyd delivers that line in particular with such frantic urgency.
“Hello? Hell-ooo? Anybody home?!”
Who wants to remember Biff Tannen in any moment other than those times he was foiled by the family McFly? Well, in one of his less creeptastic moments in Back to the Future history, his taunting of young George did leave us with one of many of the iconic catchphrases this movie claims as its own.
“I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud.”
This short but sweet Back to the Future line is one of the most iconic not only because of when it’s said, but also because of who said it. This gag is only funnier when, after hearing “The Power of Love” playing on the soundtrack, Huey Lewis himself pops up to give Marty and his bandmates the bad news.
Marty McFly Introduces The Baines Family To The Rerun
Future boy Marty McFly is always good for an anachronism when it comes to traveling outside of his home timeline. 1955 saw him not only visiting his own father as “Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan,” but he almost spilled the beans on the concept of a rerun to his mother’s family at the dinner table. Could have been worse though… he could have told them he was Marty McFly, and not Calvin Klein.
“I think he took his wallet.”
Every big franchise has some of those innocuous moments that stick out because of the random nature of their appearance. Another such moment has to be that scene in Part II where “CPR Kid” was concerned with Marty McFly potentially stealing Biff Tannen’s wallet. A huge tip of the hat to actor Wesley Mann for selling that scene for all it was worth.
Doc And Marty’s Locomotive Science Experiment
Only Doc Brown and Marty McFly would take a train hostage, and in a moment that almost looks cool, proclaim “this is a science experiment!” Repairing the timeline with a bang, our dear friends pulled a stunt that even Tom Cruise would probably smile at every time he rewatched it.
And there you have it: the Back to the Future moments that prove this saga is just as beloved today as it was upon first debuting. We hope you had fun taking this stroll down the memory lane of Marty McFly’s past, present, and beyond. Until next time, we’ll see you in the future!