It might seem silly to think that there is anything overlooked in the Back to the Future movies. These are films that everyone knows and loves, and truthfully, they have been talked about to death. We all know that there is an incredible attention to detail in the trilogy, but we’re under the belief that people don’t truly grasp how many amazing details were included. These movies are true pieces of art, and they left no section unpainted. Even years later, after we have seen the films countless times and had people view them frame by frame, posting results and analysis, there are still little amazing things we’re uncovering.
Now, we know there are several things that you’re expecting to see on this list. The fact that you’re expecting them means that they shouldn’t really be in here. Chances are, they won’t be on here. In most of those cases, we will mention the neat little detail in passing or as part of something larger and more interesting. If there is something obvious that we left out, well, that’s because it was obvious and not because we didn’t spot it. You may think you’ve seen it all, but we have a feeling that some, if not most, of the stuff on this list will be new to you. Here are 15 Overlooked Details from the Back to the Future Films.
15. The Train Shirt
The wardrobe team for Back to the Future have long been heralded as greats for their futuristic outfit designs, but this team did a lot of excellent work in other parts of the trilogy as well. Remember that terribly ugly shirt that Doc wears in Back to the Future Part II, the one with the trains and horses on it? Well, plenty of people have discussed how this foreshadows the third film in the Old West, but this shirt comes into play in a really neat way later on. In the third film, Back to the Future Part III, Doc and Marty highjack a train. They both have bandanas on that they use to cover their faces. Check out Doc’s bandana. It’s faded and difficult to make out, but there are trains and horses on it. That’s his shirt.
14. Breast Implants
For whatever reason, the team behind Back to the Future believed that there would be a lot of fake breasts in 2015. We know this because the concept is everywhere, even if it is inconspicuous. The only obvious example we get is from Lorraine Baines McFly in the future. You’ll remember that she got some work done on her chest. But, there are plenty more examples. Check out where Doc and Marty place Jennifer after she’s been knocked out. There, in the alleyway behind her, is a pile of discarded silicon. There are also advertisements in the city and on the television for a “2 for 1 Breast Implant Sale.” On the television ad, we see that the options are “the Headlight ‘TIT'” and “the Super Inflatable ‘TIT’, for that last-minute adjustment.”
13. The Trouble With Pepsi
There is plenty of mirroring going on throughout the different Back to the Future films, but one of the best examples happens around Pepsi. First of all, there are tons of Pepsi ads littered throughout these movies. But, this drink gets special treatment as well. When Marty first walks into Lou’s Café in 1955, he orders a Tab and then a Pepsi Free, but he gets a normal Pepsi. He soon finds that he’s unable to open this bottle because he’s apparently never seen a pop top before. George comes up and helps him out, showing him that the Pepsi machine has a built-in bottle opener. Later, in Back to the Future Part II, Marty orders a Pepsi from the throwback ’80s Café. Once again, he struggles to open this bottle. We never do see how it works, though. Well, we do but it happens in just one blink of an eye and you’ll miss its shot. Later in the film, we see Marty’s daughter drinking one of these modern Pepsis in the McFly household. The lid has a built-in straw that pops out.
12. The Pointer
Even though this is one of the details that people love to talk about, there is still a portion of the world who have not witnessed this gem, and we’re doing our part to remedy that. This one comes from Back to the Future Part III. When Doc and Clara return from the future and introduce Marty and Jennifer to their two boys, Jules and Verne, you would be forgiven for paying attention to only Doc, who is rambling on about some garbage. But the real magic is happening off to the side. Check out Verne. As soon as he enters the frame, we know he’s up to no good. He just looks like the spawn of Satan. Then, as if he’s speaking directly to you, he beckons you closer with his hand. We feel like we’re being drawn into the film, like The Last Action Hero. As we float closer, the little bugger just points to his crotch. Now, there’s a good chance that this little guy just needed to pee. Judging by the grimace of pain on his face, this would add up, but we like our version too.
11. Names Changing
One of the neatest little things in each of the three films in this gorgeous trilogy is how places and people change after history has been altered. We all know and love the Twin Pines Mall example. After Marty goes back to the past and runs over one of the two pines on Peabody’s farm, the mall’s name in the future is changed to Lone Pine Mall. There are a couple of examples of this, but the one that most people tend to overlook is that the Clayton Ravine is renamed Eastwood Ravine. This is obviously because, instead of Clara Clayton dying in the ravine, it’s Marty (or Clint Eastwood as they know him) who seems to sacrifice himself. When Marty returns to 1985, you can see a quick shot of the sign and the resulting name change.
10. The Effective Opening Sequence
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Doc Brown isn’t swimming in money. In the opening sequence, the camera even hovers over two newspaper clippings. The one of interest in this overlooked detail reads, “Bankrupt Inventor Sells Off 435 Prime Acres.” Now, from this sequence, we learn really three important details. We learn that Doc is a bit eccentric. We learn that Doc Brown has money issues. We see bills scattered all over the house, many of them left unopened. And we see a crazy amount of clocks, showcasing Doc’s obsession with time. Hell, his name, Emmett, said aloud is time backwards (Emit). Later on in the films, in the alternate future in which Biff owns the Pleasure Paradise Hotel and Casino, the town’s primary clock, the one in the clock tower, is missing (or nearly impossible to see). This just shows how terrible this future really is. This all sets up Doc’s character and story perfectly without banging you over the head with the details.
9. Safety Last!
At the climax of Back to the Future, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) hangs from the clock tower. The image is one of the more iconic shots from the film and has become ingrained in our minds ever since. But this shot is a homage to another incredibly famous shot. In the 1923 Harold Lloyd film, Safety Last!, Lloyd’s character, the Boy, hangs from a clock tower in a similar way. This shot is considered one of the silent film era’s greatest images. This isn’t the only reference that BTTF has to Safety Last! either. At the very beginning of the movie, Doc Brown has a table clock that depicts this very scene, foreshadowing the event later in the film as well.
8. The Broken Ledge
When our attention is first brought to the clock tower in Back to the Future, it’s when the lady from the historical society is asking Marty and Jennifer for donations. We can see that the ledge underneath the clock is intact. This is important because at the end of the film, back in 1955, we watch Doc Brown struggling up there, and a piece of the ledge breaks off. Later in the trilogy, in Back to the Future Part II, when Marty is back in 1985, we can see quite clearly that the ledge is now broken. Beautiful continuity.
7. Doc’s Garage
As we mentioned above, we see in the beginning of Back to the Future a couple of newspaper clippings in Doc’s house. The one mentions the bankrupt inventor selling land, but the other headline reads, “Brown Mansion Destroyed.” The headline is accompanied with a photo of firefighters looking on at the destroyed mansion. Now, we get to see this mansion when Marty visits Doc back in 1955, but there’s something else interesting there. We also see the mansion’s garage. This garage is the very same as the house that Doc is living in in 1985. Yes, that means that poor old Doc Brown is living in the garage of his former mansion.
6. Female Cops
Although we only really come in direct contact with two police officers in Back to the Future II, they have a major presence in the city. In the background of many shots in the 2015 Hill Valley, we can see police officers traveling doing their work. The most amazing part of the whole thing is that every single one of these cops is a woman. That’s right. It isn’t just the two officers, Foley and Reese, the ones who take Jennifer back home. It’s all of them. It’s unclear why this is so, but considering how incompetent the Hill Valley Police Department has been in the past, we understand that they may have wanted to change things up.
5. The Epic Chiasmus
A chiasmus is essentially the word or concept version of a palindrome. Like a palindrome, which is a word read the same forward and backward (e.g. madam), the Back to the Future films are constructed as a chiasmus. In other words, the second half of the trilogy is exactly like the first half except played in reverse order. Now, harsh critics might suggest that this is because the sequels are overly formulaic, but there’s artistry here. The chiasmus begins and ends with characters being blown over, Marty from rocking out too hard in the beginning, and Marty and Jennifer blown over by the train time machine in the end. The middle point in the story, the point in which it all starts playing in reverse order, is when Marty is learning about the alternate timelines in Back to the Future Part II. He gets an explanation from both Doc and Biff in two similar sequences back to back.
4. Terry The Mechanic
You would be forgiven for forgetting who Terry the Mechanic was. Terry is a character whose role was largely lost to the cutting room floor, but there’s still great importance here. We first meet Terry in 2015 in Back to the Future Part II. He’s the one asking for donations for the clock tower, much like that lady in the first film. He’s wearing some iffy old man makeup, so we, as the expert BTTF viewers that we are, know that he will come into play in the past. He does, it’s just not as noticeable as we had hoped. That’s also why so many people missed it. We see Terry again in 1955 after Biff busts up his car on the manure truck. Terry is the mechanic that fixes the car and the one that Biff stiffs for the bill. There is a deleted scene in which Terry from the future reminds Biff that he stiffed him in 1955. This is said to be the reason why Biff chooses to go back to that day. Terry is also the guy who gives Marty the idea to buy the Sports Almanac after he said that he wishes he put money on the Cubs at the beginning of the season. In the grand scheme of the film, he’s one of the single most important characters. He’s also played by Charles Fleischer, who was famously the voice of Roger Rabbit (Who Framed Roger Rabbit).
3. Honest Joe Statler
The Back to the Future films are treasure troves of continuity. We see so many links between the various times, such as the mayors, the cafés, and so many other examples. There’s one clever continuity that even die-hard fans overlook that has to do with Statler Toyota. Statler Toyota shows up numerous times in the first two films. We hear a radio for the car dealer in the very beginning of the film. In fact, these are the first words we hear in the film. Later, we see Marty pining over that Toyota 4×4, one of Statler’s showroom pieces, the truck he’ll eventually get. Whenever the timelines get messed up, Statler Toyota is one of the major pieces that is changed, showing a direct impact on Marty’s life. In Biff’s future, the dealership becomes PIG, an adult book and love toy store. It becomes a Pontiac dealership in the future when Marty Jr. almost goes to jail. The best addition to the Statler story is seen in Part III, when Marty first arrives in Hill Valley. We see a billboard for Honest Joe Statler, a horse dealer. Clever dogs.
2. The Delorean
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the Delorean from the Back to the Future trilogy the most iconic car in movie history. It’s a national treasure. But there appears to be much more to the car than people give it credit for. There’s a very good possibility that the flux capacitor has a larger role to play in this than the car itself, but we will treat the entire machine and all its components (the flux capacitor included) as one. There’s been a long-held joke that the Back to the Future films did as much harm to the Delorean’s image than good. The car dies in every film at very key moments. Story wise, some say this is forced tension, but what if there’s something more to when the car dies? It seems to be that whenever the vehicle stalls, it does so because another version of the Delorean/Flux Capacitor is starting up. Usually, if the car didn’t stall at these times, there would be two versions of the Delorean in the same place at the same time. It’s as if the machine has a built-in paradox inhibitor. Sure, time paradoxes exist in the BTTF film, but never with two active Flux Capacitors. Some say that the Delorean or the Flux Capacitor have a mind of their own and do whatever is necessary to protect itself, but it seems more plausible that the Flux Capacitors just shut down whenever another one activates as a safety override of some sort.
1. The Spiked Punch
One of the beautiful things about Back to the Future is that we get to see the same moment from several different angles. Any time something changes or we see something new, we can assume that it has value. Take a scene at the dance in Back to the Future Part II, for example. In it, we see that Biff spikes the punch. Even though this wasn’t in the original film, we can assume that it happened because of everything that follows. We then see George McFly (Crispin Glover) drinking the punch. This is mere moments before he finds Biff outside with Lorraine and musters up the courage to punch him in the face. It stands to reason that George didn’t find his own courage; he actually found liquid courage. Compare that with the original timeline. This punch never happened before Marty came back, but we can still imagine that Biff spiked the fruit punch because, on that night, George first kissed Lorraine on the dance floor. So even then, spiked punch was probably the cause for George’s courage.
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