Back to the Future creator solves Part III plot hole involving Doc Brown’s 1885 death

Over the last three decades, Back to the Future trilogy fans have brought up apparent plot holes in the films’ storyline. And now the franchise’s co-creator and screenwriter Bob Gale has sought to solve one of them. This apparent plot hole is from the beginning of Back to the Future Part III and involves Doc Brown’s 1885 death.

At the start of Back to the Future Part III, Marty McFly is once again stuck in 1955 after Doc was accidentally sent back to 1885 after being struck by lightning in the DeLorean.

Having written a letter to the time-travelling teen to open some 70 years later, the scientist said he had decided to stay in the Old West.

However, he had buried the DeLorean in a mine shaft for Marty to uncover with the younger Doc in 1955.

But after recovering the time machine, the pair came across older Doc’s gravestone.

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Back to the Future creator solves Part III plot hole involving Doc Brown’s 1885 death

Back to the Future creator solves Part III plot hole involving Doc Brown’s 1885 death (Image: GETTY)

marty and 1955 Doc

Marty McFly telling 1955 Doc he’s back from the future (Image: UP)


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The grave said 1985 Doc had been shot in the back over a matter of $80 a week after he wrote the letter in 1885.

After 1955 Doc asked Marty what kind of future that was for him, Marty reassured the younger scientist he’d go back to the Old West to bring his older self home to 1985.

But upon arriving in 1885, 1985 Doc was surprised to see Marty having told him to go directly back to the future and leave him in the past.

However, upon seeing the 1955 photograph of his grave predicting his murder in a few days time, Doc is totally surprised.

doc looking at photo and grave stone

Would this Doc already know about his gravestone? (Image: UP)

back to the future musical doc and marty

Back to the Future the Musical is playing now in London (Image: PRESS)

So here’s the apparent plot hole: If the 1955 Doc from the beginning of Back to the Future Part III had seen his grave and sent Marty back to 1885, surely in this timeline he would have grown up to be the 1985 Doc that Marty has now come across in 1885 and therefore would know he would get shot.

Of course, he could just be pretending to preserve the space-time continuum, but put this to Bob Gale while he’s been in London to promote Back to the Future the Musical.

The Back to the Future co-creator said: “Well we’ve established that the future can change. Time is malleable.

“That would be like saying, well at the beginning of the first Back to the Future, doesn’t Doc already know that Marty’s going back to 1955.”

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Gale continued: “Well no he doesn’t because Marty goes back and things change. So no, he doesn’t know and that’s how time travel in Back to the Future works.

“It’s not that everything’s written, it gets revised. Otherwise, Marty would come back to 1985 at end of the first movie and everything would be exactly the same.”

So according to Gale, the new timeline Marty created going back to 1885 – the one in which Doc wasn’t shot – was a different one from the one he’s just left 1955 Doc in. And presumably, the Doc who was struck by lightning was from a timeline where he didn’t see the gravestone and Marty didn’t return to 1955 a second time. We think – or maybe we’re more confused!

Back to the Future the Musical is playing at the Adelphi Theatre in London and tickets can be booked here.

Read More: Hollywood News


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