Buford "Biff" Howard Tannen
Biographical information
Date of birthMarch 26, 1937
Age (1955)18
Age (1985)48
Age (2015)78 (Deceased in 2015C)
Physical description
Hair colorBrown (in 1955)
Blond (in 1985)
White (in 2015)
Eye colorBlue
Behind-the-scenes information
Played byTom Wilson
Voiced byTom Wilson (Back to the Future: The Animated Series, 2010 video game 30th Anniversary Edition)
Andrew Chaikin (2010 video game)
"What're you lookin' at, butthead?"
—Biff's famous catchphrase
"Hello? Hello? Anybody home?"
—When beating someone's head with his knuckles or, in 2015, the top of his cane
"Just a year older than George McFly, Biff Tannen stood with his potbelly leaning unashamedly over his trouser tops, an attitude that made his loud plaid suit, pinky rings and gold chains seem even more bizarre. Whereas George McFly was reticent, Biff was loud and obnoxious, the type of person who talks loudly in movie houses or yells epithets at players during sports events. He was, in short, an intimidating lout, and no one was more easily intimidated than his friend and associate George."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 28)

Buford[citation needed] "Biff" Howard Tannen is the main antagonist of the Back to the Future franchise, with his 1955 self serves as the main antagonist in Back to the Future and the central antagonist in Back to the Future Part II, while his 1985 self serves as a supporting antagonist in Back to the Future, a minor antagonist in Back to the Future Part II, and the overarching antagonist in Back to the Future Part III, his 1985A self serves as the main antagonist of Back to the Future Part II, and his 2015 self serves as the overarching antagonist in Back to the Future Part II.

Biff was the great-grandson of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. He was not very bright and only got through high school by bullying George McFly to do his homework for him. Biff often took pleasure in calling George an "Irish bug", and regularly bullying and tormenting him. He was feared by most of his schoolmates. The only person he recognized as an authority figure was Mr. Strickland, his high school disciplinary officer. In 1955, he surrounded himself with a gang consisting of Match, Skinhead, and 3-D.

By 1985, Biff's marital status is unknown, although Biff had a grandson Griff by 2015, indicating that Biff had at least one child by 1985. (According to some sources, Biff had a son, Biff Jr., who, it is suggested, owned the Cafe 80's). He may have also had a daughter named Tiff Tannen, short for Tiffany. [1]

Biff was noted for mixed metaphors. For example, he said "make like a tree and get out of here" instead of "make like a tree and leave" on more than one occasion. He also once said "That's about as funny as a screen door on a battleship" instead of submarine. During his theft of the DeLorean in 1991, he said "Have a nice trip, see you next winter!" His insult of choice was "butthead", or — usually when addressing George McFly — (Irish) "bug." One of his routines was to knock on someone's head and say "Hello? Hello? Anybody home?" He liked cars and ended up with a career waxing and cleaning them with his auto detailing business. Biff was still a jerk and more passive-aggressive than a bully, but could be nice when necessary, usually to get out of trouble.


Biff like the rest of the Tannen family bullied people to get what he wanted. It is fair to say he wasn't intelligent during his youth, as he constantly got his metaphors incorrect and he had to force George to do his homework for him to pass his high school classes.

In the original timeline, Biff bullied and harassed George during their youth and adulthood. However, when George's youngest son Marty travels back to 1955 by accident and gives George some confidence, George successfully stands up to Biff by knocking him out with a punch when the latter was harassing Lorraine. Being hit by George supposedly ends his bullying days and installs some humility within him. From them on he treats George with respect and even addresses him as "Mr. McFly". He also seems genuinely happy for George when his novel gets published.

When Marty and Doc travel to 2015, it is revealed Biff still loves bullying people, but on the flip side is often bullied by his grandson Griff. On a positive note, Biff seems to be more intelligent than in his youth as he has a better grip of his mixed metaphors. During his encounter with his younger self when he traveled back to 1955 (by stealing the DeLorean), he rebukes his younger self for getting his mixed metaphors incorrect, further showing that an older Biff is more astute than his younger self.

When the older Biff alters the timeline by giving the sports almanac to himself in 1955, Biff becomes a vicious, corrupt and abusive dictator-type who mistreats Lorraine and Marty, and has murdered George. However, when Marty fixes everything by going back to 1955 and burns the almanac before young Biff can use it, everything goes back to normal. When Marty comes back to 1985 a second time, Biff is still mean, but he often treats Marty and George with good-hearted respect.



From the fifth issue of IDW's Back to the Future: Biff to the Future comic

Buford Howard Tannen was born in 1936, to Irving Thomas "Kid" and Myra Tannen in Hill Valley, California. Kid and Myra got married on December 6, 1936, simply for the purpose of making it seem like Biff wasn't born out of wedlock. The two parted ways immediately after the wedding, and neither parent wanted Biff. Subsequently, Kid Tannen's mother, Gertrude Tannen, took custody of him. Before he left his son, Kid gave Gertrude a forged birth certificate on March 26, 1937.[2]

In the original timeline, Biff started bullying George McFly when they were kids and never stopped. On their first encounter at high school in 1954, George had a hero sandwich rubbed into his face by Biff after Dale Carnegie's claim in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People that a man cannot remain hostile if one showed one was sincerely interested in him proved somewhat ineffective.[3] On his 21st birthday, Biff spent most of his money betting in horse racing; but lost all of it.[4]

By 1985, Biff would continue to bully and intimidate George, and they both ended up working for the same company, where Biff became George's supervisor (due to George doing all Biff's work for him to get promoted). Because Biff was too lazy or stupid, or both, to do his own reports, he forced George to do them instead. Biff's crush on Lorraine never died either, even after she had married George. On the night of October 25, Biff had convinced George for him to drive his car after work. While driving in an interstate; wrecked the car while drinking and driving has been drinking and driving (at the same time!). Biff was complaining that George had not told him the car had a "blind spot" (though most cars have a blind spot). Biff demands to know who is going to pay his dry-cleaning bill, as he spilled beer down his suit in the crash, then bullies George into writing his reports for work while making a rude comment by calling Marty "butthead".

History rewritten[]

Biff Tannen 1955

Biff, age 18, in 1955.

History was changed when the McFlys' youngest son Marty McFly accidentally traveled back through time to 1955 using his friend Dr. Emmett Brown's DeLorean time machine, interfering with his parents' first meeting.

Manure ford 1955

Biff's car crashes into a manure truck.

Marty, using the anachronistic name "Calvin Klein," also managed to get on the wrong side of Biff by standing up to him, something which Biff was not used to. Marty was also indirectly responsible for causing Biff to crash his car into a manure truck, an incident that caused $300 in damage to his car. Seeking revenge, he found Marty and Lorraine in Doc Brown's car on the night of the school dance (November 12, 1955).

Biff's gang trapped Marty in the trunk of another car and Biff tried to get his way with Lorraine. George came along, as part of the plan he and Marty had plotted where George would find Marty "parking" with Lorraine and come to her rescue, but soon realized that the pretend rescue was now a real one. For the first time, George stood up to Biff to stop him from sexually assaulting Lorraine.

Biff trying to break George's arm

Biff tries to break George's arm...

Biff responded by twisting George's arm, threatening to break it. Lorraine, trying to pull Biff away from George, was knocked to the ground. George, now enraged, suddenly broke free of Biff's grip and knocked him out with one punch. As a result, George became much more confident, and was no longer one of Biff's victims. Lorraine and George fell in love, and went on to marry.

The punch

...but George breaks free from his grip, and knocks out Biff with one punch, saving Lorraine.

It is unclear whether Biff found someone else to bully or whether being knocked out by the supposed weakest kid in school had ended Biff's days of bullying people and also instilled at least a rudimentary notion of humility in him.

Since Biff no longer had George to do his work for him, he now had to do things for himself. He started up his auto-detailing business, which he owned and ran himself, and by 1985, the McFlys were among his most loyal customers, and Biff's subservient attitude was demonstrated by his addressing George as "Mr. McFly".

Biff Tannen 1985

Biff in the rewritten 1985, waxing George's car.

George seemed amused at Biff's efforts to get away with as little work as possible (although Biff's comment about already doing two coats of wax on the car may have been a personal good-natured joke between him and George) though he and Lorraine privately credited him with unwittingly helping them get together. George and Biff appeared to have become friends, or were at least on amicable terms. Biff seemed to be genuinely excited when George's published novel was delivered, suggesting that he at least was happy for his old victim.



Biff, aged 78, in 2015

At the age of 78, Biff seemed to return to his grouchy and mean demeanor, and was still waxing cars in 2015 (although he had a better grasp of mixed metaphors than he did 60 years before). The fact that he still owned and managed Biff's Auto Detailing may suggest that he has fallen upon hard times and still needs to keep working in order to earn a living. However, it may have also been the case that he was working more as a way to keep active (which some retirees make a practice of). It is clear that Biff is quite bitter and resentful as a senior citizen.

Formerly the bully, Biff was himself being bullied by his grandson Griff. This family relationship was at best a strained one, as grandson and grandfather seemingly did not get along. When Griff and his gang were arrested by the police for vandalizing the Courthouse Mall, Biff said to himself "Buttheads" — likely feeling that Griff got what he deserved.


Old Biff thinks he's talking to Marty Jr., and tells how Marty McFly Sr. had his own life completely flushed down the toilet.

Biff still seemed to like harassing people, including Marty (whom he thought was Marty's future son), and the handle on his cane was in the shape of a closed fist, which he used to rap people on the head because his own hands were now too feeble to hit anyone hard — although he remained cautious and apprehensive around George McFly. Biff's crush on Lorraine still lingered, as he told the young man, "Say hello to your grandma for me."

Despite Biff's anger at himself for letting life pass him by, he had become a calmer and more astute individual than he had been in his youth; this would lead to problems for Marty and Doc. When he sees what he believes to be Marty's son Marty McFly, Jr., he picks on him for having a failed father. He however, is unaware that the kid he is picking on is actually Marty from 1985, who has traveled 30 years into the future with Doc in the latter's Time Machine, while Marty himself is confused by Biff's insinuation. While Griff and his gang are chasing Marty on their hoverboards, Biff remarks that there is something familiar about this, as this is similar to Biff and his gang chasing Marty 60 years ago.

Old Biff with the Sports Almanac

Old Biff holding the Grays Sports Almanac book.

When he sees the DeLorean, he says to himself he saw a flying DeLorean 30 years ago. Shortly after, Marty Jr. runs out of the café and accidentally bumps into Biff, making the latter confused, as he is seeing "two" Marty McFly Juniors. Sneaking into an alleyway, Biff eavesdrops on Doc reprimanding Marty for abusing time travel to get rich. After Doc disposes the Grays Sports Almanac in the trash, Biff claimed it for himself and remarked that Doc built a time machine. It is possible that he also realized that the kid he just picked on was Marty from 1985, also figuring out more proof when Marty from 1985 said "I did?" when he talked about adult 2015 Marty. He hired a taxi to go to the Hilldale neighborhood, then stole the DeLorean and took it back to November 12, 1955, so that he could alter his life by handing the almanac to his younger self.

Encountering his younger self, he passes himself as a distant relative, the two briefly argue and he reprimands his younger self for getting his mixed metaphors wrong, before transitioning to the Sports Almanac. He gives his younger self the sports almanac so he could become rich. While young Biff initially does not take it seriously, old Biff proves its validity by correctly predicting the score of a college football game, which sparks the interest of young Biff. Old Biff tells him to bet on the winner and he'll never lose. Young Biff says he'd take a look and throws it in the back of his car, only to be reprimanded by old Biff, who tells him never to leave the book lying around. He then tells him to get a safe and lock it up. He puts the almanac in his back pocket, and tells him to lock it in a safe and never tell anyone. He also tells him that sometime in future, some guy claiming he's a scientist will come asking for the book, and when he does, young Biff should kill him. After this, old Biff presumably travels back to 2015.

Young Biff and Old Biff

Young Biff and Old Biff having a conversation, moments before Old Biff gives his younger self the sports almanac.

Just before Marty and Doc returned with Jennifer, Biff returned to 2015 and got out of the DeLorean with difficulty, then suddenly clutched his chest in pain (apparently suffering a heart attack), causing the top of his cane to break off and fall inside the car. He staggered away and slumped behind a parked car; he then fell sideways to the ground behind the car and faded away because of his having changed history. By altering the timeline, old Biff created a new timeline, where he was no longer alive by October 21, 2015. In Biff's alternate reality, it appears he was shot by Lorraine (possibly as revenge for killing George or simply being fed up with Biff’s abuse) sometime in the mid 1990s — presumably with the same gun that killed George twenty-three years before.[5]

In 1985A, Doc discovered the top of Biff's cane and the receipt for the sports almanac in the DeLorean, from which he deduced Biff's theft of the time machine.

The alternate present, 1955-1986A[]

Biff 1958

Biff after winning his first million betting on a horse race in 1958.

Although struggling to see the resemblance between he and his older self, and initially unwilling to believe the old man, over time, Biff came to believe the almanac's validity, though losing the dust jacket cover as it was on his Oh LàLà magazine that Stanford S. Strickland took. Eventually young Biff used the sports almanac to bet on the results of sporting events, since he knew the outcomes in advance, giving him the ability to cheat. In 1958, he placed his first bet on his 21st birthday, which led to him winning his first $1,000,000 and becoming rich. From then on, Biff would continue to get rich by betting on the sports result with the almanac. Biff soon became very rich and powerful, eventually starting up his toxic waste company BiffCo and a casino hotel in Hill Valley (at least twenty-seven stories high), named "Biff's Pleasure Paradise", changing the laws of California to legalize casino gambling in 1979. Biff had apparently used his money to influence American politics as well as California politics.

Biff 1985-A

Biff in 1985A

In addition to his lobbying of legalization of gambling before the California Legislature Biff also spearheaded a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Biff was apparently an admirer of Richard Nixon, whom by repealing presidential term limits, he had helped get elected to at least four terms as President of the United States. Biff had presumably altered the timeline by either bribing to cover up the Watergate investigations or resorting to outright murder. President Nixon had plans (at least as of 1983 while seeking a fifth consecutive term), and leaving the Vietnam War unresolved as of 1983, which meant Biff's ways has affected the entire world as well. Though he was promoted (at least by himself) as "America's greatest living folk hero", Hill Valley in 1985A had become a center of crime, corruption, prostitution and gang warfare — which was not surprising really, since Biff also had control over the Hill Valley Police Department.

Lorraine and biff

Biff and Lorraine got married after 1973.

Despite Biff's great wealth and many female admirers, Biff did not have the woman he always wanted, and would still have to wait decades before his time had come. In this version of history, he had been married three times. Not much is known about Biff's earlier marriages. Biff's first wife was Marilyn Monroe. That marriage had been dissolved by divorce. Biff's second wife was Jayne Mansfield, who divorced him after she saw photos of Lorraine Baines McFly. The divorce from Mansfield renewed Biff's feelings for Lorraine. On March 15, 1973, Biff shot and murdered George, though Lorraine had not yet learned the truth by 1985A. Biff married her later that year, giving her financial support and offering to help the widowed Lorraine through her tragedy, but he apparently did not adopt her three young children as his own. Biff's power and wealth had gone up to his head, and he was very abusive towards Lorraine. He also paid doctors to drastically increase Lorraine's bustline, and gave only marginal support to his three stepchildren. He may have used his power to keep Dave McFly (Lorraine's 'idiot son') out of jail, but had no qualms about using his power to revoke Dave's probation, presumably by bribing the probation officer. Biff may have also been allowing Linda McFly to live the carefree life of a playgirl, but threatened that he would stop paying off her credit card bills. Biff paid for Marty's tuition at a boarding school in Switzerland, but this may be more likely he wanted at least one of his stepchildren away from him as far as possible since Marty was still a high school student, more so than trying to get Marty the best education he could provide. He carefully kept and preserved the Almanac, the source of his success in his personal safe behind his portrait for further use in the next few years until the Almanac information expired in 2000.

Biff tannen

Biff with his guards in 1985A

In 1986, Biff's long reign of terror finally came to an end when, in an attempt to visit 1996 in order to obtain future information to help him become President of the United States in 1988, he was instead temporarily sent back by Doc Brown to 1884, where he was murdered by his great-grandfather Buford Tannen upon calling him "Mad Dog." There is also a speculation that he was shot by Lorraine in the mid 1990s. While it is unclear when exactly and how Biff died, it is clear that he did die at some point prior to 2015 after old Biff altered the timeline. Because he was no longer alive by 2015 after having altered the timeline, Old Biff collapsed and faded from existence upon returning the DeLorean after his trip to 1955.


Biff, provoked beyond his endurance, prepares to run over Marty, before hitting the manure truck for the second time.

This version of reality was erased when Marty and Doc went back to 1955 and got the almanac from Biff before he could use it, while causing Biff to crash into the very same manure truck a second time. When Marty burned the retrieved almanac and burned it, the timeline returned to how it was at the end of the first film, where Biff was running his auto detailing business.

The improved 1985[]

Once Marty had returned to 1985 for the second time, Biff was spending a second day working as an auto-detailer - but now, he has a red jacket, not a green one.

While normally maintaining an appearance of being obsequious, Biff's original bad attitude still lurked beneath the surface and emerges occasionally, like his reaction to seeing the DeLorean take off and when he snapped at Marty when Marty approached his truck after his adventure in 1885. To be fair, he did think Marty, still in his "Clint Eastwood" disguise, was some punk trying to steal the truck and once he realized who the "punk" was, Biff immediately apologized, once again readily presenting his friendly facade.


Biff 1986

The less antagonistic Biff, rummaging through Doc's lab equipment in 1986.

During the estate sale of Doc's garage, Biff was present and was quite apt to picking up or taking things that were originally Doc's. Here Biff's aggressiveness took on a more passive element as Marty argued with him over Doc's notebook that was hidden inside a demonstration model of the Hill Valley Courthouse. Biff, however, would refuse to comply with Marty's requests. To efficiently rid Biff of the notebook, Marty grabbed his guitar and turned on the CRM-114 amplifier. Biff bearishly bumped Marty aside after Marty cranked the settings up to max. Marty stood back as the inevitable concussive force blasted out of the speaker, sending Biff to the back wall, and allowing him to grab the notebook from Biff's possession.[6]


Biff 1986A

Biff, just as mean as he was in 1955, now a ruthless enforcer for the Tannen Crime Family in an alternate 1986.

Biff was encountered again upon Marty's return to 1986, albeit this time as an enforcer and member of the Tannen Crime Family, the fifth largest in California. Thanks to changes in the past, his father Kid Tannen never went to prison, and as such remained leader of the local mob, turning it into the powerful Tannen family crime syndicate. He is shown for the first time to have two brothers, Cliff and Riff Tannen. Both supported him as they enforced the Tannens' rule over the Hill Valley townsfolk, including George and Lorraine McFly. In this reality, Biff is even meaner and more violent than ever. After he was slugged by George in 1955, he and his brothers viciously retaliated and broke his legs, making him a crippled paraplegic. He and Lorraine suffered intimidation and paid protection money, while Marty was run out of town for causing an "incident with a manure truck" to befall Biff.[7]


Biff 1986B

Biff, even more docile than normal, asks Marty not to swear, as it makes him "uncomfortable"

In an alternate timeline where Doc becomes a tyrannical despot by the name of "Citizen Brown", Biff was a broken man who lived in fear of Citizen Brown and his merciless regime of order and control. When Marty swore in front of him, Biff reacted with fear and nervousness, as apparently any infractions in Citizen Brown's state of order were dealt with harshly. Even in this police state, Biff was still an unruly man and a churlish individual, as he claimed to engage in alcohol consumption, illicit sexual relations and allowing dogs to run around wherever they pleased (dog ownership being outlawed in this timeline). His actions would result in him being brought to task before First Citizen Brown and "brainwashed" into becoming the first of Citizen Brown's newest campaign of enforcing order known as "Citizen Plus". When Marty first encounters Biff in 1986G, he is seen freshly graduated from the Citizen Plus Program and shaking hands with Citizen Brown. Now, if even the thought of wrongdoing crosses his mind, his body is stimulated to become physically ill to the point of nausea and vomiting. As Biff was the first Citizen Plus, he got a job promoting the "Citizen Plus" campaign in front of the courthouse to passers-by. However, unknown even to him, he was used for another purpose, to be hypnotized by Edna Brown as a henchman, as later seen when he roughed up George McFly. When confronted by Marty about the assault, Biff denied doing so, which was technically true, as he did not do so by his own fault and his memory was erased after the X:11 hypnosis was removed.

The programming's hold over him was finally broken when Biff wound up in a room filled with all the magazines, videos and booze that had been confiscated from him and other citizens. Overwhelmed by the close proximity to items he had been conditioned against, Biff returned to his original mindset. Although he was most angry with Edna for brainwashing him, Biff also remembered that Marty made him do embarrassing stunts and threatened to deal with who was in his immediate line of sight, in this case being Marty. Biff angrily tried to clobber Marty, only to in turn get hit over the head from his father's old transforming speakeasy table and knocked out cold. Biff's rampage would not last long, as he was soon captured and remanded to the Citizen Plus Ward under heavy guard. Marty sees an enraged Biff inside a soundproof room, who is recalcitrant to take medication. This largely goes unnoticed by the guards, as Edna has demanded the guards' top priority be focused on reconditioning First Citizen Brown. Being a secondary issue, one guard remarks that Biff is to be denied meals until he takes his medication.


In the alternate timeline created by Doc Brown and Marty McFly preventing Edna Strickland from accidentally burning down Hill Valley, the end result was Edna being arrested for drunk driving, arson, and resisting arrest. This led to her and Kid Tannen winding up in the same jail cell, which in turn led to Edna and Kid getting married after Biff and his brothers were conceived, making Edna Biff's stepmother. She often took Einstein, Doc's dog, for exercise daily.

Biff's father appeared to be a slightly tougher parent in this timeline, now admonishing Biff to show respect for his stepmother, which may have mellowed Biff's rough attitude somewhat.

Back to the Future: The Ride[]

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 9.53

1955 Biff Tannen on the time machine from Back to the Future: The Ride

In 1991, Doc established the Institute of Future Technology (IFT). On May 2, 1991, time travel volunteers from the IFT went back to 1955 to make sure that the timeline was back to normal following the events of the films. In 1955, 18-year old Biff stowed away in the time machine and once in 1991, stole it and blasted through time. Doc followed Biff through time in the new 8-seater DeLorean. Biff visited October 25, 2015 (almost the 30th anniversary of the first time travel experiment), an active volcano, and the Ice Age before heading back to 1991. Biff was then taken back to 1955, where he belonged, by Doc.

Of course, because of this experience, Biff should be aware of Doc's time travel experiments as far back as 1955 — yet he is still surprised at seeing the DeLorean fly in 1985, even though he flew one himself. Why Biff never hassled Doc during the preceding 30 years is also never explained. Doc more than likely used a sleep induced alpha generator on Biff after the volunteers and security caught him back to the institute.

Back to the Future: The Animated Series[]


"'I went to a rejuvenation clinic and got an all-natural overhaul. What do you think?"

It is requested that this article, or a section of this article, be expanded.

See the request on the listing or on this article's talk page. Once the improvements have been completed, you may remove this notice and the page's listing.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 9.37

Biff Tannen in Back to the future Animated series

1992 Biff was shown to act like a milder version of his original "asshole-ish" 1985 incarnation. It would appear his obsequious act in front of George and Lorraine was simply that, an act. Biff was generally difficult to get along with (Though not impossible) and sometimes causing trouble. He had returned to wearing a crew-cut like he did in 1955.

Since one of his numerous ancestors or descendants were encountered, Marty rhetorically questioned if there was a "Tannen" in every time and place they visited when they went to ancient Rome. Biff was once shown driving a tow truck, indicating he still has his auto detailing business, but has now become more successful at it with increased capital.

In 1967, he saw the Comet Kablooey and thought it was an alien ship. In 1992, he tried claiming Jennifer Parker's grandparents' ranch after finding a deed saying the Tannen family owned it. However, Marty, Jules and Verne went back to 1875 to make sure that the Tannens never got the deed.


Lorraine Baines[]

"Say hi to your mom for me."
—Biff Tannen to Marty McFly

He had a crush on Lorraine Baines and referred to her as "my girl", and continued to take an interest in her even thirty and sixty years later. Lorraine did not return the sentiments.

George McFly[]

In the original timeline, Biff bullies George endlessly (when they were children and adults) but in the alternate timeline when George is successful, Biff has stopped being a bully. He has parlayed his love of cars into an auto detailing business, and the McFlys are part of his customer base.

In the second alternate 1985, Biff goes so far as to kill George.


In Back to the Future Part II, Marty watches a video in the Biff Tannen Museum that states that Biff placed a winning bet on his 21st birthday. It shows him holding an oversized check and shows the newspaper, which Doc and Marty later examine in person; the paper is dated March 28, 1958. As the newspaper reports on several events that took place on March 27, including Nikita Khrushchev becoming Soviet premier and Eisenhower curbing oil imports, we may surmise that Biff's big event was also the previous day.

Multiple additional sources give conflicting dates for Biff's birthdate:


From the fifth issue of IDW's Back to the Future: Biff to the Future comic

Behind the scenes[]

  • Biff Tannen had been named in the original, 1980 draft of the script for Back to the Future, and in earlier drafts, "Biff H. Tannen" was referred to, along with a mention that the H. stood for "Howard". While this might suggest that Biff is a nickname, the original script included a sequence where Biff ruins an electric drill and then says to George, "Oh — and one more thing: my kid's selling Girl Scout cookies. I told her you were good for four boxes. Don't make me a liar!" This unused line may well be the basis for Tiffany Tannen. Had it been used, it would also have humanised his original bullying personae, by representing him as also trying to be a good father. A similar scene was filmed for Back to the Future, with a pushy neighbor and his daughter getting George to buy a case of peanut brittle. The neighbor, whose scenes were cut from the film, was named Howard. The middle name Howard was actually spoken for the first time in the Telltale game.
  • J.J. Cohen who later played Skinhead, one of Biff's gang, was considered to play Biff, but did not appear physically imposing next to Eric Stoltz, who was originally cast as Marty. He did however appear more imposing next to the shorter Michael J. Fox, who had been the first choice to play Marty and who would later replace Stoltz in the role. On the DVD commentary for the first film, producer Bob Gale noted that Cohen may very well have won the role had Fox been cast from the beginning.
  • By the time he reaches age 79, Biff is a lot smarter than he had been at 49 or at 19, Besides the more obvious point, where he is with the 1955 Biff, he is very exasperated with Biff's penchant for mixing up metaphors and corrects him and blasts him for sounding "like a damn fool" when he says "make like a tree and leave" wrong. He also quickly recognizes an opportunity to borrow a sports almanac and a time machine, and even readily figures out how to operate the machine without any prior instructions. In addition to stealing the car, he has to (a) put fuel in Mr. Fusion (b) input an appropriate destination time (c) turn the time circuits on, and (d) reaching the proper speed (88 m.p.h.) for time displacement. After locating his younger self, he has to repeat the sequence and set a return time immediately after his moment of departure so that nobody would realize the car had ever been gone. It is possible that Old Biff might have needed more than one try before he successfully traveled to November 12, 1955. (He could, indeed, have experimented for weeks or months before he figured out how to operate the time machine, but on returning from 1955 to 2015 he would have made sure to return to a point in time immediately after he stole it, so that it would not be missed.) It is also possible that the JVC camcorder with the videocassette of Doc's instructions was still in the car.
  • According to the readout on the time machine controls, Old Biff spent several hours in 1955 after giving his younger self the almanac and before returning to 2015. It remains unclear as to whether he was doing a spot of nostalgic sightseeing, if he had to wait until it got dark before retrieving the DeLorean from wherever he hid it in 1955 (possibly to avoid being spotted and shot at by the police), or both.
  • In the Back to the Future Part II novelization, at the Cafe 80's, old Biff comes to regret being such a jerk and realizes he wasted his life. Of course this epiphany is quickly forgotten upon his discovery of the Almanac and the DeLorean. Ironically, in his attempt to make his life better he ends up making himself a much bigger jerk. As a result of this, he ends up actually guaranteeing his demise.
  • In the first draft of Back to the Future Part II, Biff would instead travel back to September 20, 1967, the day he received a $25,000 inheritance. In that draft, he does not interact with his younger self, but leaves the almanac on the doorstep of his house in an envelope. By 1967, Biff is a blue-collar middle class conservative. He drives a 1965 Chevy Ranchero (sic), with an "America: Love it or Leave It" bumper sticker and has a German Shepherd named Chopper. When Marty attempts to retrieve the envelope the almanac is in from Biff's mail slot, his hand gets stuck and Biff notices and confronts him, thinking he's a hippy, When Biff sees the heavy envelope doesn't have a return address or postage stamp, and notices Marty's pained reaction, he thinks it's a bomb or some other kind of booby trap and Marty put it there and gives it back to him, ordering him to leave. Biff would later appear again, when Marty is putting up flyers of an anti-Vietnam War rally on the Hill Valley University campus, when he rips off one of the flyers and reads it with disgust. Biff arrives at the rally with three cronies, planning to infiltrate the rally from the behind and engage in violence with the hippies. As Marty is speaking, Biff attacks him. Marty punches Biff, but the last punch knocks Biff directly into Emmett Brown, causing him to drop $500 in an envelope into a burning 55-gallon drum. Biff's cronies scatter as security arrives, leaving him unconscious on the ground.
  • Biff appeared in Back to the Future: The Animated Series, though not in every episode. Thomas F. Wilson provided the voice for Biff, who always wore a red bowling shirt. In the first season, Biff often would appear after the closing credits and would tell a lame (intentionally) joke. He was often seen as a character in the second-season episodes. Wilson supplied the voice for many, if not all, of the Tannen relatives encountered in other eras.
  • In an interview with the official BTTF Club magazine, Thomas F. Wilson speculates that Biff's grandmother was probably the primary reason Biff grew up to be such a jerk. He also claims Biff's signature "Butthead" and "Hey, McFly" quotes were mostly his ideas.
  • At the Biff Tannen Museum, a sign outside says Smoking Required.
  • Though they know a lot about each other, Biff and Emmett Brown are never seen interacting in the films — only in the animated series and ride. However, Doc has tangled with several of Biff's ancestors, such as Buford Tannen.
  • It has been said that "Biff" is a nickname for the name "Buford".[citation needed] It wouldn't be a surprise if the Tannens had more family traditions besides orneriness.
  • Biff occasionally insults George’s Irish heritage calling him “an Irish bug” which is ironic, considering Tom Wilson, who plays Biff, is of Irish descent in real life.
  • In March 2013, Biff married his All My Children main protagonist wife Erica Kane and went off on a honeymoon with her.


Futurepedia has a collection of images and media related to Biff Tannen.

Notes and references[]

  1. Referred to in an early draft script for Part II, and in the animated series
  2. Back to the Future: Biff to the Future Chapter 5
  3. Back to the Future novelization, page 165
  4. Back to the Future: The Card Game
  5. Kirk Cameron puts forward this theory during the 1990 behind-the-scenes television show The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy, when answering a viewer's question about the space-time continuum as seen in the trilogy. The deleted scene of Old Biff fading from existence in 2015 is used to illustrate Cameron's answer.
  6. Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
  7. Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!

The McFly Family
Marty McFly | George McFly | Lorraine Baines McFly | Jennifer Parker | Seamus McFly | Maggie McFly
Dave McFly | Linda McFly | Martin McFly, Jr. | Marlene McFly | Arthur McFly
The Brown Family
Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown | Clara Clayton-Brown | Jules Brown | Verne Brown | Einstein
The Tannen Family
Biff Tannen | Buford Tannen | Griff Tannen | Irving "Kid" Tannen
The Strickland Family
James Strickland | Roger Strickland | Irene Strickland | Edna Strickland | Gerald Strickland
Other Individuals
Match, Skinhead & 3-D | Goldie Wilson | Douglas J. Needles | Marcus Irving