- "Brother Dave, twenty-one, sat [at the dinner table] opposite him [Marty], wearing a Burger King uniform. He kept one eye on the clock and the other on his food, which he wolfed down in large sections, swallowing like a half-starved animal."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 34)
- " Looking once again at the clock, Dave wiped his mouth and pushed his chair back. "Damn," he said. "I'm gonna be late again." / "Please watch your language," his mother warned. / "Hell, yes," Dave said, getting up and starting for the front door. A moment later, they [the rest of the family] heard his car start up and roar off. Marty wished he owned his own car, even a heap like Dave's. At least he would be independent; if something went wrong with the car, he would have only himself to blame. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 37)
- "See you later, pa. Time to change that [hair] oil!"
- —Dave to his father
Dave was quite laid back, and liked to laugh at his own jokes. He had a close bond with his father in nearly all timelines, and was probably the McFly sibling who got along with George the best. Dave liked to watch reruns of The Honeymooners with his father and had no real interest in sports.
In the first timeline, (October 25, 1985), Dave was working at Burger King where he may have been working for some time. Dave may have had to catch the bus to work (although in the novelization, he did own a tatty old car, much to the envy of Marty), suggesting that he could not afford a car and/or the insurance for one on his wages. The job suggested that Dave may not have done that well at school, or he may have been bullied like his father before him.
After Marty returned to 1985 from 1955, he found that his actions in the past had altered the lives of his family. Presumably due to having more confident parents, Dave's life had improved remarkably in this timeline and had begun a better job as a white collar office worker, for which he had to wear a suit and from where he offered to mail Marty's submissions form and demo tape cassette for R & G Records. It would appear though that even in this timeline, Dave did not have a car, as he seems annoyed when Marty thought that the family car was wrecked (which it was in the original timeline). Presumably, he either moved out of his boyhood home and was only visiting, or he still lived with his parents and was likely wisely investing the earnings from his office job into something long-term, such as a down payment on a house of his own.
After Marty successfully managed to set history right by taking the almanac off Biff in 1955, Dave reverted to the office worker that he was before, and was seen by Marty briefly as the family headed out to lunch.
In the timeline in which Biff received a sports almanac from his future self, Biff became rich and murdered George in 1973, marrying Lorraine and becoming Dave's stepfather.
In 1981, the remaining McFlys noticed that Biff had removed all photographs and references to George from the house. This made Dave angry, causing him to storm out while exclaiming that he'd never be a Tannen and that Biff was not his father.
Soon, Dave made himself known to the Hill Valley Civic Committee. They planned to break into Biff's mansion to find incriminating evidence that they could use against him, and Dave volunteered to disable the alarm and leave a door unlocked so that Terry could get in and access the safe. The plan failed, as it relied on Biff going out for dinner with Lorraine and the children, but Biff stayed at home instead and had Terry murdered.
Biff had guessed Dave's involvement, and had his men lock Dave in the trunk of a car and take him to the edge of Hill Valley. They ordered him to leave town and never return. In reality, they felt sorry for Dave, and were another example of people having to obey Biff or be punished like Terry.
Other alternate timelines
In the 1986G timeline, Dave had likewise left Hill Valley and worked at a big city newspaper.
Behind the scenes
- Dave's original place of employment prior to Marty altering the past was McDonald's rather than Burger King.
- Dave did not appear in the finished version of Back to the Future Part II, although he was mentioned by Biff Tannen in 1985A. However, Dave does appear in a scene cut from the film — but reinstated for the novelization — where it is revealed that he is an alcoholic (like his mother in the original timeline in the first film). He does not appear to have much contact with his family, possibly due to Biff, although he is pleased to see Marty ("our" Marty, not the Marty native to this timeline) in Courthouse Square. The scene was cut from the film for time reasons, plus there was no similar scene for Linda (as the late actress Wendie Jo Sperber was pregnant at the time and unable to film).
- The reference to Dave working at a big city newspaper in the 1986G timeline in Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown is an in-joke which refers to Marc McClure's role as Jimmy Olsen in the Superman film series.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future: The Card Game
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen! (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: Who Is Marty McFly?
- Back to the Future: Citizen Brown
- Back to the Future: Biff to the Future
- Harold McFly (paternal medieval ancestor)
- Jennivere McFly (paternal medieval ancestor)
- Martin McFly (paternal great-great-granduncle)
- Pee Wee McFly (paternal great-granduncle)
- Seamus McFly (paternal great-great-grandfather)
- Maggie McFly (paternal great-great-grandmother)
- William McFly (paternal great-grandfather)
- Arthur McFly (paternal grandfather)
- Sylvia McFly (paternal grandmother)
- Sam Baines (maternal grandfather)
- Stella Baines (maternal grandmother)
- Milton Baines (maternal uncle)
- Sally Baines (maternal aunt)
- Toby Baines (maternal uncle)
- Joey Baines (maternal uncle)
- Ellen Baines (maternal aunt)
- George McFly (father)
- Lorraine Baines McFly (mother)
- Danny Parker Jr. (uncle-in-law)
- Linda McFly (sister)
- Marty McFly (brother)
- Jennifer Parker (sister-in-law)
- Marlene McFly (niece)
- Martin McFly, Jr. (nephew)
- Marta McFly (great-grandniece)
| 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
Match, Skinhead & 3-D | Goldie Wilson | Douglas J. Needles | Marcus Irving