" "Excuse me," he [Marty] said. "I'm late for class." / He started to take a step toward the door, but Strickland's hand shot out quickly. / "I didn't excuse you, McFly," he said sharply, grabbing Marty's elbow. / The sudden motion caused Marty to lose control of his books, two of which started to slide down his leg. Raising his knee, Marty only succeeded in knocking the others loose. A split second later, everything hit the floor, including the hollowed-out book containing his Walkman stereo. As luck would have it, the illicit unit slid tantalizingly across the waxed tile in slow motion, coming to rest in the far corner of the waiting area. / Strickland regarded it with narrowed eyes. Too late, Marty started gathering up his books, quickly placing his body between Strickland and the Walkman. / "You know the rules," the older man smiled. "No radios in school. That means detention for one week." / Marty gulped. He started to protest, then accepted the inevitable. "Yessir," he muttered. / "Starting today," Strickland continued. / "Today?" Marty gasped. "But I can't! Me and my band have an audition for the YMCA dance, Mr. Strickland. I have to be there at four o'clock." / One might as well have tried begging a shark to seek food elsewhere. Through rheumy eyes spiked with malicious glee, Strickland stared unflinchingly at his victim. Then, with a curt wave of his hand, he began to turn away. / "An audition, huh?" He said. "Well, McFly, it looks like you just blew it." "
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 10 and 11)
" "Come in, McFly," Strickland ordered. / Head down, Marty walked into the room. It was a typical classroom in the school which had been built at the end of the Great Depression. Green blackboards had replaced the old black types and the walls, desks and ceiling had been repainted. A new sprinkler system had been added, too, but the place still had a dreariness that Marty found almost terminally depressing. The expressions on the faces of the ten other students enduring punishment indicated that they regarded the place with equal misery. All stared glumly ahead or down at the desk top in front of them. One of the victims, a thin-faced kid named Weeze, had a skateboard tucked beneath his books, almost as if he expected Mr. Strickland to confiscate it or destroy it."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 11 and 12)

Detention was a form of discipline at Hill Valley High School in which a student was kept behind after school — usually to do extra schoolwork.


On October 25, 1985, Marty McFly was given detention by principal Stanford S. Strickland before Battle of the Bands for having a Walkman in school.

This particular detention was for those students — two of whom were Weeze and Stevenson — who had violated the school's 'no Walkman' rule, but no extra work appeared to be required on this occasion. Instead, the students had to watch as Mr. Strickland crushed and destroyed the Walkmans he had confiscated, one by one, using a woodworking vise — after which he would invite the owner of each unit to come up to the front of the room and claim the shattered remains.

While Mr. Strickland was destroying Marty's Walkman, Marty grabbed a lens from a slide projector, applied some gum to the back of a matchbook and shot it up to a smoke alarm on the ceiling. He then used the lens to focus sunlight at the matchbook, but was forced to hurry before Mr. Strickland closed the blinds. Marty succeeded in igniting the matchbook, setting off the fire alarm and sprinkler system, before escaping out of the door to get to the audition.

Whether Marty was grounded as a result of getting detention remains unrecorded. However, if a grounding did take place, it was probably just for the weekend, as Marty did not seem to be "on punishment" the next Friday night.

Behind the scenes

  • The detention room scene was to have appeared in Back to the Future, but was only filmed with Eric Stoltz as Marty and not Michael J. Fox. However, the complete sequence was reinstated by George Gipe for the novelization.



See also

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