Doc's four portraits (l-r): Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

"Tom, how am I going to generate that kind of power? It can't be done, it can't!"
—Dr. Emmett Brown, addressing his portrait of Thomas Edison (Back to the Future)
"By the time he [Marty] caught up with him, Doc was already in a large room of his house which he used for painting. The walls were decorated with portraits of famous inventors and scientists such as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison. The centerpiece of the basically bare room was a large upright artist's easel upon which a huge canvas was resting. Doc Brown stood next to the easel now, his features very agitated as he attacked the canvas with a paint brush, his arms whirling in great arcs like a malfunctioning windmill. Each time the brush struck the canvas a huge red streak appeared. / "One-point-two-one gigawatts," he mumbled over and over as he continued his nervous dance."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 127)
" Doc Brown had stopped painting for a moment and was now looking up at the portrait of Thomas Edison. / "Tom!" he shouted. "How am I gonna generate that kind of power [1.21 jigowatts]? It can't be done, can it?" / Abruptly, he dipped his brush on the palette and made another foray on the painting. / Marty stepped close to him. "Doc, what are you doing?" / "I'm painting! I always paint when I can't understand a problem." / Marty decided to humor him. "Well, use green," he suggested softly. "Green's your color." / "Is it? How do you know that?" / "I just know. Trust me." / Brown looked at him a moment, then swabbed a mass of green onto the palette and transferred several broad strokes of it onto the canvas. / He was almost immediately calmed. / "Why, yes... yes, you're right," he breathed. "That's much better." / Marty nodded. "I knew it would be," he said. "
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 128)

Dr. Emmett Brown had four portraits of famous scientists displayed in the study area of his garage in 1955.


The portraits were of Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

Doc looked up at and addressed his portrait of Edison when he wanted to know how to generate 1.21 jigowatts, and said it couldn't be done.

Behind the scenes

  • In George Gipe's novelization, the portraits are displayed not in the study area of Doc's garage but are only four of many in a large room in his mansion, where Doc paints on a canvas set up on an easel when he comes across a problem he can't understand (see Quotes above).


See also