*WARNING: THIS ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS OF THE ENTIRE "BACK TO THE FUTURE" FRANCHISE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
Top 5 "Back to the Future" Paradoxes
If I have one talent, it’s that I’m a geek. Such a geek in fact that I pretty much understand every time travel paradox, meaning I can detect any time travel plot hole in any sort of media almost all the time. So imagine my glee when I watched the Back to the Future trilogy, a film series full of time travel paradoxes.
Before I start the article, however, I just want to stress that I love Back to the Future. It’s my favourite film series next to Harry Potter. Me pointing out these paradoxes are just a bit of fun and should not be taken seriously or to mean I dislike the series. Shall we start the list?
#5: Marty’s parents should recognise Marty as their son.
I’m pretty sure every Sci-Fi fan and their mums has watched the first movie, but for anyone who doesn’t, here’s the basic outline of the plot: The plot of the first movie involves Marty going back and preventing his mum and dad getting together, which is erasing him from time, so to save himself he must get his mum and dad back together. However, Marty’s mum Oedipuses out on him. Now Marty must face time, his musical insecurity’s and his horny mother.
Wait a minute…
Wouldn’t Lorraine, Marty’s mum, or George, his father, recognise their 17 son as the guy Lorraine hit on as a teenager? That have to be an awkward situation as George realises their son is the offspring of “Calvin Klein”. Speaking of which…
#4: Marty’s Parents would recognise the name “Calvin Klein”.
While in 1955, Lorraine notices the name “Calvin Klein” on Marty’s pants after apparently striping him (Messed up, I know), and mistakes it for Marty’s real name, obviously not realising it’s a brand of fashion in the future.
Wait a minute…
Now, call me crazy, but when you meet a person as a teenager with the name “Calvin Klein” on his clothes, and a few years later, a famous fashion designer creates clothes exactly like that of your friend as a teenager, you’d start to get a little suspicious.
Also when you think more into it, Marty’s parents probably do things like buy their children’s underwear and clean it, so they MUST have brought the exact same underwear Marty wore in the past.
Wouldn’t they then recognise it, or at least Lorraine as she got to see it "up close and personal", you might say?
Added to the fact their son LOOKS like their friend from 1955, is named Calvin Klein, and wore the same clothes as a future fashion brand, it makes sense that they would suspect that their friend from the past was actually their son… OK, maybe not THAT far, but they should at least be suspicious.
#3: Doc knowing about Doc’s death
Jumping ahead to the last film in the trilogy, Back to the Future III started from where the second film left off, with Doc being accidently sent back in time to the Western ages due to the DeLorean being struck by lightning. To try and save Doc, Marty goes back to past Doc who just sent past Marty back to the future… Yeah, get used to that stinging feeling in your head folks.
Anyway, Doc helps Marty follow instructions left by Doc in the future who is trapped in the past (There it is again) to get the time machine and destroy it. However, Marty and Doc discovers the future Doc was killed in 1885, so they plan to send Marty back to the past to save Doc from his death… Wow that was a mouthful.
Wait a minute…
Past Doc now knows about his impending doom. Couldn’t he… You know… Park the DeLorean away from the lightning strike and prevent him being sent back in time, also stopping him from being killed?
You could argue that Doc doesn’t want to change established events and risk mucking up the timelines, but he doesn’t give a damn in the first movie where he saves himself from the Libyans attack by wearing a bullet proof vest, so why not do it now?
#2: The plot of Back to the Future II
Yes, you read correctly. The entire plot of the second instalment of Back to the Future is a paradox. Not just one part, or one scene, but the ENTRE MOVIE.
Biff from the future goes back in time to give his past self an Almanac containing statistics and scores of every major sport events from 1950 to 2000. This meant past Biff could win so much money that he pretty much ruled the world. This turned present 1985 into a dystopian society, causing George to be killed, Marty to be the step-son of Biff and Doc to be committed several years before 1985.
You hear that? All this happened BEFORE 1985, meaning all this happened BEFORE the DeLorean was created.
Wait a minute…
If Doc Brown was committed before the creation of the time machine, this means he couldn't create the flux capacitor or anything time related.
But… the future Biff did all this USING the time machine Doc created. Meaning that in the timeline future Biff created, he couldn’t POSSIBLY travel back in time, meaning Doc was never committed, meaning he could create the time machine, meaning Biff could go back, meaning... Oh you get the point.
It’s an example of perhaps the most famous paradox known to man, the Grandfather paradox.
The paradox is this: the time traveller went back in time to a time when his/her grandfather hadn't married yet. At that time, the time traveller kills his/her grandfather, and therefore, the time traveller is never born when he was meant to be. This means that because the time traveller was never born, he/she could never go back and kill his/her grandfather. However, because their grandfather was never killed, it mean you would exist again, which means you could go back and kill your grandad, which means you would never exist, which means couldn't go back, which means your grandfather would be alive, which means you could go back, ect.
The grandfather paradox does not only happen when someone alters their own birth. Rather, it regards to any action that makes it impossible for the time traveller to travel back in the first place, for instance, this movie. The whole movie is based on one big long and confusing paradox.
You may be wondering what could possibly be a bigger paradox than the entire plot of Back to the Future II. Well...
#1: The plot of Back to the Future III
OK, so in case you somehow missed my #3 paradox on the list, here is the basic plot of Back to the Future III:
Back to the Future III started from where the second film left off, with Doc being accidently sent back in time to the Western ages due to the DeLorean being struck by lightning. To try and save Doc, Marty goes back to past Doc who just sent past Marty back to the future.
Doc helps Marty follow instructions left by Doc in the future who is trapped in the past to get the time machine and destroy it. However, Marty and Doc discovers the future Doc was killed in 1885, so they plan to send Marty back to the past to save Doc from his death.
Wait a minute…
If Marty was successful in saving Doc, which he was, that would mean Marty never sees the gravestone with Doc’s name on it, meaning past Doc never sends Marty to 1885, meaning Doc does die, meaning… Again, you get the point.
This is another example of the grandfather paradox: Marty saving Doc literally means that Doc dies, because if Doc didn’t die, Marty couldn’t save him because he wouldn’t KNOW Doc needed to be saved, meaning Doc couldn’t survive!
DAMN, I needed to get that off my chest!
You may be wondering why I picked the entire plot of Back to the Future III being number one instead of the plot of Back to the Future II.
Well, that’s a great question random citizen: In Back to the Future II, I can at least give them the satisfaction of saying they probably didn’t realise it was a paradox. However, in this one, they up and state the tombstone Marty found doesn’t exist anymore: They literally show the gravestone disappear from Marty’s picture he took of it, proving without a doubt that the gravestone doesn’t, nor has it ever, existed… So how does Marty know to go to the past to save Doc!?
THAT WAS THE ENTIRE POINT!
But it’s OK, because Back to the Future, warts and all, is still an amazing film franchise. Most film franchises have at least one bad movie in it, except Back to the Future and Harry Potter.
Sure, the weakest by far was Back to the Future II, but it was still a great film and enjoying as hell to watch. Also, I have to agree with Nostalgia Critic when he says the theme is AWESOME!
Return to homepage for more videos and reviews
Wanna listen to some of that awesome theme music?: