- "Great Scott!"
- —Doc Brown's famous exclamation and catchphrase
- "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious shit. "
- —Doc demonstrating the time travel experiment to Marty McFly
- "Ah! What did I tell you!? EIGHTY EIGHT MILES PER HOOOOOUUUR!!!"
- —Doc's exclamation when the DeLorean time machine's test is done
- "If only I don't die of a heart attack or a stroke first," Dr. Emmett Brown muttered aloud. / He was close to seeing his dream become a reality. No doubt about that. One by one the scientific and physical obstacles had been eliminated. Was this to be "the day"? / "Don't count on it," he replied to himself. There was no use getting too high, he reasoned. / At sixty-five, he was one of the nation's most talented and unheralded inventors. In fact no one except Marty McFly even knew of his accomplishments, but that didn't matter. Soon all that would change. His lifetime of struggle, of being the recipient of ridicule, would suddenly turn golden. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 25)
Dr. Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown is a resident of Hill Valley, California. He was the inventor of the DeLorean time machine. He is the world's third time traveler (after Einstein and Marty McFly), the second to travel forwards in time (after Einstein), the first human to travel forwards in time, and the second human to travel through time (after Marty).
A scientist by trade, Doc was a "student of all sciences" who spent much of his time inventing. He was the son of Judge Erhardt Brown (whose birth name was Erhardt Von Braun). He usually had a pet dog – in 1955, his dog was named Copernicus after Nicolaus Copernicus, the third in a line of pets named after famous scientists, and by 1985 his dog was named Einstein after Albert Einstein. Doc's role models were scientists, as evidenced by the names of his dogs and the portraits of Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein found in his laboratory (which were on his fireplace mantle in 1955).
Emmett's father, Erhardt Von Braun, was born in Germany, but sought a better life in America. He left home with nothing but the clothes he wore, despite his father's disapproval, and arrived in Hill Valley, California in 1908. He married some time afterward, and they gave birth to Emmett in 1914. Around this time, anti-German sentiment had increased in the United States due to Germany's involvement in World War I, so Erhardt had their family name changed from Von Braun to Brown.
Emmett had an uncle Oliver who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When Emmett was young, he would go to visit him in the summer. On August 5, 1926, Emmett fell into a river and developed a fear of fishing.
In 1991, Emmett's sons, Jules and Verne discovered this fear after asking their father to go to the Father-Son Big Mouth Bass-Off. They traveled to 1926, together with Marty McFly, in an attempt to prevent the accident. However, when Emmett cast his line, it got caught on a low flying stunt biplane flown by Roris Von Hinklehuffins. Emmett's stunt was recorded, and he was heralded as "Daredevil Brown". Uncle Oliver realized that Emmett could bring in a lot of money, so he signed a deal to have Emmett become a famous silent film star, doing crazy stunts around the country.
When he arrived in Hollywood, movie producer D.W. Tannen proposed a very dangerous stunt, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but promised that a dummy would take Emmett's place. In reality, Tannen planned on keeping Emmett in the barrel for the "realistic" look. Verne saved his father by taking his place in the barrel. Using a handheld portable flux capacitor, Verne arrived on dry land in the barrel when its fall approached the speed of eighty-eight miles per hour.
Oliver realized that he had put Emmett's life in danger by blindly accepting that the people in charge of the stunts cared about Emmett's well-being, so he put an end to Emmett's short film career. Emmett returned home to pursue the life of science he was supposed to have, but this time without his fear of fishing.
At age 11, Doc discovered the works of his favorite author, Jules Verne. From that point, he decided to dedicate his life to science. About a year later, Doc tried digging to the center of the Earth, inspired by the 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
In his youth, Emmett played sandlot football, gaining the nickname "The Streak" due to his quick reflexes.
By 1931, Emmett Brown had worked hard and had studied law, becoming a city judge. That summer, Judge Brown made his son Emmett work for him as his junior clerk in the Hill Valley Courthouse. Though he showed dedication to his job, he preferred Science over Law.
Making a friend
On June 13, 1931, he met a young man (in reality his future friend, Marty McFly) who claimed to be from the Washington D.C. patent office. Initially wary of the stranger, he opened up to him after the man helped him solve Ivanov's conundrum. After explaining to the young man that he had to deliver a subpoena to Arthur McFly and required 190 proof grain alcohol as fuel for his rocket-powered drill, the two set out to accomplish these objectives.
First, they managed to acquire alcohol by switching it with the soup at the Sisters of Mercy Soup Kitchen (which was run by Irving "Kid" Tannen) and having Edna Strickland deliver it to Emmett's house by allowing her to host the next meeting of the Stay Sober Society there. Then they managed to steal Arthur McFly's hat from Kid Tannen and had Einstein sniff it and managed to track down Arthur McFly and handed him the subpoena. Afterwards, Emmett had a brief encounter with a future version of the stranger (who had traveled back in time to save Arthur McFly).
By nightfall, Emmett and his friend began working on completing the rocket drill until they were interrupted by Emmett's father, who demanded that Emmett explained the Stay Sober Society's presence. Deciding to distract his father, Emmett started an argument with him regarding Emmett's future career, providing his friend clues on how to complete the rocket drill by emphasizing certain words during the argument. After the rocket drill was completed, Emmett quickly ended the argument with his father and asked the young man when he could expect a response from the patent office. However, the young man then revealed the truth about not being from the patent office and said that he required the rocket drill in order to help a friend. Prior to leaving, the young man apologized to Emmett for deceiving him and told him that he would be a great inventor. Forgiving the young man, Emmett instructed him that he should keep the rocket drill's throttle at about eight before the young man left.
"Single-handedly" capturing Kid Tannen
In the months that followed, Emmett became a fully realized inventor and was working on creating a rocket car for his demonstration at the Hill Valley Expo using Einstein, who was accidentally left behind, as a test subject.
On August 25, Emmett encountered his friend once again and demonstrated his rocket car to him. However, Emmett quickly lost control of the car, which ended up stranding Einstein on the roof of the Courthouse and then crashed into a bill board on another building.
Shortly afterwards, Edna Strickland (who had come to dislike Emmett following the incident with Stay Sober Society) came to him and referred to his rocket car as a public hazard and mocked the very idea of flying vehicles. During their argument, Emmett's future self saved Einstein from the roof, which left Emmett wondering how Einstein managed to come down.
With Einstein safe, Emmett turned his attention to his rocket car and climbed on to the roof in order to figure out how to bring it down. After pulling the car out of the bill board and repairing it, Emmett was taken hostage by Kid Tannen, who had fled to the roof in order to escape the police. However, Emmett managed to disarm Kid after his friend managed to distract him. In a rage, Kid pushed Emmett off the building. Fortunately, Emmett managed to grab hold of a ledge.
Emmett's rocket car was subsequently utilized by his friend who, along with the help of suspected arsonist "Carl Sagan", managed to apprehend Kid Tannen, who was then arrested by Danny Parker. Afterwards, Emmett was approached by Edna, who apologized for what she had said earlier. Though flattered by her apology, Emmett admitted that his rocket car was indeed a failure and that he needed a new idea, to which Edna replied that she had a few suggestions. The two then walked off towards the theater to watch Frankenstein, though they never entered due to Edna's disinterest in the movie, and started dating shortly afterwards.
A Match Made in Heaven?
Two months later, Emmett and Edna, then in a heavily romantic relationship, began collaborating on a "revolutionary" new invention for Emmett's display at the Hill Valley Expo, the Mental-Alignment Meter, which is designed to measure a person's likes and dislikes in order to gauge their mental condition (with Emmett himself being measured as a "Model Citizen"), when Emmett's friend reappears again while Emmett is visiting the barber shop. The stranger later visits Emmett as he is working out the bugs in the MAM, who doesn't know that he is attempting to sabotage his relationship with Edna by rigging his Mind Map to portray him as a degenerate. While the friend is there, Emmett contemplates proposing to Edna after mentioning Edna's grandfather James Strickland, but upon protest by the stranger, decides to wait until the Hill Valley Expo because it will be "more romantic" that way. However, once there, it was one disaster after another; his portable stain remover had mysteriously aged several hours, ruining the white suit Edna had given him when he tried to remove a sludge spot, local actress/singer Trixie Trotter faked being in an adulterous relationship with him in front of Edna, and when Edna confronted him about ruining her grandfather's wedding suit and having an affair with Trixie, Emmett tried to defend himself with his Mind Map card, only to discover that it now rated him as a Degenerate Criminal instead of a Model Citizen. Livid, Edna slapped him and told him she never wanted to see him again, which emotionally devastated Emmett. Later, Emmett's friend found him sitting on top of the Hill Valley Courthouse and tried to cheer him up, but Emmett stated he is beyond caring about anyone or anything anymore. When the friend told Emmett that he cares about him, Emmett suddenly became furious, blaming him for all of his recent problems, which caused his friend to get annoyed and reveal that he had once again lied about who he was, that his real name was Marty, and that Emmett was a delusional dreamer with no guts to follow any of those dreams. Fed up with being told how to live his life, Emmett declared that he would only follow his own advice and his own ideas from then on. When a lightning bolt from a thunderstorm crashed in the distance, Emmett suddenly had an epiphany about the rocket car: the secret to making it fly wasn't rockets, but static electricity! Giddy with excitement over his new idea, Emmett was prepared to go home and begin making the modifications when the Courthouse facade gave way under his feet, causing him to fall off the clock tower and become entangled in a rope and pulley system that had been used to hoist up a pair of dog statues adorning the clock. Marty managed to save him using the portable stain remover and some Tarzan-like ingenuity, after apologizing to Emmett and agreeing to help finish the new Electrokinetic Levitator in time for the Expo.
On the day that Emmett was supposed to fly the Levitator, he was approached by Edna, who ordered him to shut the experiment down, to which he refused. Later, he was approached by "Carl Sagan", who claimed to be a scientist and had a business proposal for Emmett, which would have meant leaving the Expo, so he refused before being chloroformed and dumped into Professor Jacques Douteux's bathysphere, whilst the real Douteux was replaced by Sagan. Marty, who had distracted Edna from shutting Emmett's booth by revealing her as the arsonist of Kid Tannen's original speakeasy, later retrieved Emmett from the bathysphere after threatening to suffocate him by squashing the air hose leading into the bathysphere, leading to "Douteux" giving in and letting him out before fleeing the scene. Emmett went directly to his booth and began installing the final component of the Levitator, and was ready to fly when he was interrupted by the arrival of his father, who demanded that Emmett cease the demonstration, believing it to be dangerous and foolhardy. With some help from Marty, Emmett and his father patched things up and Emmett successfully launched the Electrokinetic Levitator, to the delight of the Expo. Unfortunately, a flaw in the design caused the static currents to interfere with the steering device, causing a devastating crash that caused Emmett to be banned from the Expo for the next five decades. (It is presumed he crashed into the nearby House of Glass exhibit, because he later mentions to Marty that he shouldn't reenter the main hall until all of the broken glass is swept up.)
After making his way out of the crash site, Emmett found Marty out in the parking lot, looking rather sullen. When he asked what's wrong, Marty told him it's got nothing to do with him. When pressed further, Marty gave Emmett a folded piece of paper, ordering him not to look at it until he got the Key to the City. Initially confused, Emmett agreed and bade his friend farewell. Unfazed by the disaster of the Levitator, Emmett became even more devoted than ever to pursuing his dreams as a great scientist.
On the Manhattan Project
By 1943, Emmett Brown was a professor at the California Institute of Technology. He left his class by telling his students to work on the Jacobian conjecture, knowing that since he didn't teach a math class, they'd be thoroughly occupied.
He confronted the head of the university, Robert Millikan, with the revelation that he is aware that the top scientific minds from the facility are being sent to work on a top secret think tank by to work on a project for the government to benefit the war effort.
Robert tells him that Emmett's name did come up for the project, but he wasn't told about it. He is told that the vetting process requires an interview at his home, and possibly a psychiatric evaluation, and he's afraid that once the interviewers saw Emmett's apartment, he'd be disappointed in the outcome. Emmett tells him that he has a solution, and the interview is scheduled.
At the interview, Lieutenant General Leslie Groves and Vannevar Bush are impressed with how orderly the home is, telling Emmett that his co-workers had described him as more chaotic. He's told that the orderly nature of the apartment speaks to the disciplined mind they are after.
General Groves spots a book on needlepoint, and asks Emmett about it. Emmett explains that he doesn't like to dismiss anything, as anything can lead to a breakthrough, impressing Vannevar Bush.
As the interview is ending, Bush steps on the mail that had been delivered through the mail slot. Upon picking it up, he realizes that the mail is addressed to Mrs. Gomez, Emmett's landlady, and tells Emmett that they will be in touch.
Emmett thinks that he blew the interview, and tries to think of another way to get the position on his way home. Upon arriving at his apartment, surprised that the lights are on, Emmett is greeted by General Groves, Vannevar Bush, and J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Emmett happily shook Oppenheimer's hand, and expresses confusion, as he thought that he didn't get the job. He is told that they were well aware that he was using his landlady's home for the interview. Using an orderly home instead of simply cleaning his own is the exact kind of unconventional thinking that they are seeking for the position.
Emmett is then offered a job on the Manhattan Project. Emmett goes to his refrigerator and tells them that he has something to mark the occasion. He offers them orange Jello, which is dome shaped and has a mushroom symbolically floating in its center.
While working at the institute Leslie Groves noticed Doc's enthusiasm, and his wild hypotheses, including those on time travel, which he called Emmett's "flights of fancy". However, Groves was impressed with Emmett and believed that if anyone could invent time travel, he could.
Emmett's time on the Manhattan Project took a toll on him, however. He had nightmares about his part in creating the nuclear bomb, and the subsequent nuclear arms race of the Cold War. He had already had a reputation for being a crazy recluse, but those sentiments increased after his involvement in the Manhattan Project. Doc Brown allowed the stories to continue, and to escalate into conspiracy theories, such as people believing that he was inventing a death ray, so that he could work on his inventions in peace.
After the Manhattan Project
During the 1950s, Doc worked as a professor of physics at Hill Valley University. He dated a woman named Jill Wooster, the Dean's daughter. She told Doc that she liked Jules Verne and they both went to Pismo Beach. One day Dean Wooster and his cohorts Cooper and Mintz told him that he must participate in one of three projects: the Edsel car, chemical warfare, or Xerox (which Doc pronounced "X-rox"). Doc however had no interest in any of them and refused to do so. The Dean threatened that his relationship with his daughter would be damaged unless he cooperated with them. The next day, Jill tells him to do it for her, but Doc still refused. Jill then angrily walked out of his life, adding that she never liked Jules Verne. Heartbroken after realizing Jill was just using him to work for the Dean, Doc trashed all his photos of himself with Jill.
At some point in 1951, Doc saw the science-fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Thirty-four years later at Twin Pines Mall, he remembered the scene where Michael Rennie as the alien humanoid Klaatu stepped onto Earth for the first time.
Doc's family had amassed a large fortune that Doc had inherited by the 1950s. It allowed him to finance his projects and afford his lavish mansion on Riverside Drive.
On February 15, 1952, Doc was given a chance to be a wrestler for Small Town Wrestling under the name "Brain-Buster Brown" against Mad Maximus, however he decided not to follow through with it, to continue to pursue science, and never showed up for the fight.
However, that was changed in 1992, when Verne found out that his father could have been a wrestler. Verne and Jules got Marty to drive them back in time to convince Doc to go through with the match. As soon as Doc enters the ring, he is hit on the head with a microphone. He loses his memory, and seeing his outfit, thinks he is a superhero. He begins referring to himself as Mega-Brain-Man, and tries to perform heroic deeds, which end up causing more trouble than before his intervention. After several misdeeds, Doc finally arrives at the ring, and has the sense knocked back in to him. He loses the match, and goes back to his pursuit of science. Marty, Verne, and Jules head back to 1992, where they find that the events didn't do much to change Doc, other than changing his story about his short wrestling career. However, the experience gave Verne the courage to stand up to bullies.
Also at some point, Doc made several inventions of varying quality, including the brain-wave analyzer, the Static-O-Matic electric hair chair, the automated flapjack maker that used an experimental sawdust pancake batter, and the K-9 cateteria that used an experimental sawdust dog food.
Early time travel experiments
On November 5, 1955, Doc came up with the idea of the flux capacitor, which is what made time travel possible, as it dealt with the excess flux energy that was amassed when traveling through time. The idea came to him in a vision he had after being knocked out after slipping off his toilet while standing on it to hang a clock, and hitting his head on the edge of the sink.
Later that decade, he attended the American College of Technical Science & Complicated Math to earn an additional degree, where he was roommates with Walter Wisdom. Walter stole Emmett's idea for a perpetual motion hula hoop, and signed a lucrative contract with the Clunko Toys company. Emmett felt betrayed, as he had viewed Walter as a friend and confidant. He had even told him about his dream of making a time machine and his vision for the flux capacitor.
By the 1960s, Doc utilized his ideas of flux compression to develop a time machine that was capable of sending objects through time, but only during the lifespan of the device. The time machine, known as the temporal field capacitor, was only useful for sending objects into the future. Sending an object even a few minutes into the past caused a buildup of flux energy. If an object was sent any further back than that, the arrival of the object would overheat the capacitor and start an electrical fire.
On October 24, 1962, Leslie Groves and Colonel Lomax visited Doc, on behalf of the United States military, as they were looking for a way to travel back in time to prevent the Cuban Missile Crisis from ever occurring. Doc told them about his invention, as he needed funding for his other inventions. He later had worries that he could be ushering in an arms race through time, coupled with his regrets about ushering in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War through his participation in the Manhattan Project.
The next day, he wrote himself a letter about his plans, and purposefully sent the letter back several months in the past, to August 1, when he knew that he and his dog, Copernicus, would be safe asleep in his fireproof garage. The Brown family mansion burned down. The military personnel came and left in the new timeline without ever talking to Doc, as they considered him an insurance thief, as the official result was inconclusive. Doc used the insurance money to fund the rebuilding of the temporal field capacitor, as well as his future inventions.
The invention of the temporal field capacitor was a necessary step towards a working time machine, as it showcased the problem of the excess flux energy when traveling to the past, which was solved by the flux capacitor.
After Doc had received the insurance money for his family mansion, he built an improved version of the temporal field capacitor called the temporal field generator Mk II. Like the original, it could only send objects through time during the time period in which the device had been turned on. However, it improved upon the original device in that it could transport larger objects through time. It could also send objects many years into the past without causing an electrical fire. However, Doc was careful not to use this device too much, as one test nearly resulted in the destruction of the fabric of reality.
After the Cuban Missile Crisis had ended, General Groves and Colonel Lomax sought out another scientist to research time travel. Marcus Irving was given a lab and government funding to try to develop the necessary technology.
Doc still had to use up most of his family's fortune to fund the creation of his first fully working time machine. By the 1970s, Doc moved to his garage and sold the rest of his estate to developers.
Some time prior to 1972, Doc's father died. Doc's mother then married a man named Carlton Ellsworth. After Carlton died, Doc's mother moved to a house in Hill Valley, and Doc helped her move in. On June 24, 1972, Joey Baines was arrested for stealing $85,000 from the Ellsworth residence. Joey would spend most of his life in Folsom Prison, as he wasn't granted parole until 1986.
The DeLorean time machine
When Marty McFly was either 13 or 14, on October 2, 1982, Emmett found that he had snuck into his laboratory. Seeing how Marty found him not to be the mad scientist that others were claiming, and impressed that he was able to overcome the traps that he set up to keep people away, Doc gave him a part-time job to look after the lab, as his lab assistant and feed his dog Einstein.
Since he no longer needed to worry about his garage, Doc was able to work on experiments in his secret lab. Doc didn't reveal the location to this lab to anyone, including his assistant. He even went to extreme lengths to keep it a secret, registering the building under his birth name, Von Braun.
In September 1984, Doc purchased a DeLorean DMC-12 and a non-working pinball machine, which were advertised in the classifieds section of the August 11 issue of the Hill Valley Telegraph by Robert and John respectively. He also purchased another DeLorean DMC-12, apparently as a backup, as he did not modify it as he had the other.
Doc finally finished installing his time machine into a DeLorean sports car in 1985, using plutonium to power it, only to be killed by a group of Libyan terrorists who had given it to him. The Libyan deal was that they had wanted him to make them a nuclear bomb. Doc had made a fake (non-functioning) one out of used pinball machine parts and kept the plutonium for the time machine. Doc's overconfidence would prove to be his undoing as he said the Libyans were too dumb to discover they were duped. Presumably the Libyans attempted to detonate Doc's bomb for a terrorist act, and when it was a dud they realized the truth.
Fortunately, Marty, who had witnessed the first time travel experiment, was accidentally sent back to 1955, where he tried to warn the 1955 version of Doc about the terrorists. Over the course of the week, Doc posed at Marty's uncle and avoided any discussions with Marty about his own future. Just minutes before the Hill Valley Thunderstorm reached downtown on November 12, 1955, he came across the warning letter Marty had written him. Doc ripped it up just as lightning struck down a tree on top of the cable. Then Marty tried to shout it to Doc when he was on top of the tower but then the bell rang so Doc told him to get in the time machine. After a race to reconnect the cable, Doc successfully sent Marty back to the future by harnessing the energy from a bolt of lightning as it struck the Hill Valley Courthouse's clock tower at 10:04pm. Sometime after these events, Doc decided to take the risk, taped together Marty's warning letter and discovered the truth about that night in 1985. When 1985 rolled around again, Doc wore a bulletproof vest for protection.
After dropping Marty home, Doc went 30 years into the future, to August 8, 2015. At first, he believed that the time machine must have malfunctioned, as he could see no evidence of advances in science or fashion. However, he soon discovered he had stopped at a 1980s car expo, where he entered his DeLorean and won first prize, 10% off a hover conversion at Goldie Wilson Hover Conversion Systems. In order to cover the cost of a Mr. Fusion reactor and the hover conversion, Doc traveled to 1938 to purchase several near mint copies of Action Comics #1, which he sold at Southby's Auction House in 2015 for 2.5 million dollars. To accommodate this money, he set up a bank account under the false name of 'Leroy Brown'. Financially set for the future, Doc took off from Courthouse Square in the upgraded flying DeLorean. The Mr. Fusion reactor eliminated the need for plutonium, and allowed the time machine to operate off of ordinary household garbage.
It is not known exactly how long Doc remained in the future. While there, he got an "all natural overhaul" to his body which added 30 or 40 years to his life, and made him look younger. After presumably following up on his promise to look up Marty's future self, Doc discovered that Marty's son, Marty Jr., was to go to jail for committing a crime by accompanying Griff Tannen, an event which would end up destroying the McFly family. Doc soon returned to 1985 to pick up Marty (and Jennifer, who happened to be there) to take them to 2015.
Changing the future
Doc devised a plan for Marty to pose as Marty Jr. (since the father-son resemblance was uncanny), as well as to prevent the crime from occurring. Unfortunately, Doc failed to realize that since he used the sleep inducer in Jennifer, there wasn't enough power to knock out Marty Jr. for a full hour, thus complicating the plan. Nonetheless, Marty is able to improvise, causing Griff and his gang to crash into the Hill Valley Courthouse. The changes to the timeline became apparent as the newspaper displaying tomorrow's article changed from Marty Jr.'s arrest to Griff's.
As they prepared to go back to 1985, Doc then discovered that Marty had bought a sports almanac to take back to 1985 with him. Doc lectured Marty about abusing time travel for financial gain, but before he could adequately dispose of the almanac, they spotted two female police officers discovering an unconscious Jennifer. By analyzing her thumbprint, which didn't change over the years, they simply assume her to be the Jennifer of 2015. Doc devised a plan to get Jennifer after she is dropped off at her future home, but he then feared that if she ran into her future self, then she'd either faint from shock or cause a paradox that would destroy the universe. Unknown to Doc or Marty, Biff Tannen overheard the conversation and later stole the DeLorean and the Almanac while Doc and Marty were rescuing the Jennifer from 1985 from the future McFly family house in Hilldale, a housing estate. As expected, when both Jennifers encountered each other, they both fainted from shock. As they carried the unconscious 1985 Jennifer back to the DeLorean, Doc declares that when they get back to 1985, he'll destroy the time machine, seeing as it's brought nothing but disaster and misfortune. That way, he can focus on the other mystery of the universe: women. Doc even regretted that he would never fulfill his dream to see the Wild West. Ironically, both dreams would be fulfilled once Doc was accidentally sent back in time a few days later.
The Actions of the Alternate Doc Brown in Hell Valley
When the elderly Biff Tannen brought the sports almanac from 2015 back to 1955, he had quickly managed to amass a great fortune. By 1973, Biff had begun to buy up all the land in Hill Valley, which would soon become known to its residents as Hell Valley. George McFly turned the Hill Valley Civic Committee into a secret committee dedicated to stopping BiffCo. Unbeknownst to anyone in the Civic Committee, Doc was their silent benefactor.
When George McFly was secretly murdered by Biff Tannen, and Biff married his widow Lorraine Baines McFly later that year, Doc began to work even harder on his time machine project. He allowed the rumors about his madness to spread so that he could work under the nose of everyone in Hill Valley, including BiffCo.
Doc had come up with a time travel chamber built from a 1952 Sears Coldspot refrigerator. Since the only way to reliably get power was to hack into the city's power grid, the 1.21 Jigowatts necessary for time travel could not be sourced. Instead, Doc cut some corners in order to allow it to function.
The 465.3 megawatt capacity of the power grid would be converted to flux capacitance energy, which would send the time traveler to the date set on the time circuits displayed on a meter inside the chamber door.
The limitations of using less than half of the energy needed to properly power the chamber meant that there was only four hours of flux energy available before the time bubble protecting the time traveler would burst. This would cause the time traveler to fade from existence in the past and re-appear back in the chamber in the present.
After Biff had Terry murdered for trying to break into the safe in Tannen Manor in 1983, Biff had his stepson Dave McFly forced out of town, Doc revealed himself and his time machine to the remaining members of the Hill Valley Civic Committee.
Stanford S. Strickland recalled a time that, while he was attending Hill Valley Elementary School, Biff was going to be sent to a military academy in Idaho after assaulting other children for the third or fourth time. He remembered the date, May 16, 1946, as it was the day after he celebrated his birthday.
Doc connected the chamber to the power grid, and used his JVC camcorder to capture the moment. Stanford S. Strickland, wearing a suit that his father owned, stepped into the chamber and disappeared into the past. The remaining members of the Hill Valley Civic Committee unhooked the chamber and put it in a truck to get away before Biff realized where the blackout occurred.
Mr. Strickland arrived in the past. He walked to the school, and witnessed Biff picking on a smaller child. George McFly stuck up for the child, and Biff punched George, causing his nose to bleed. Lorraine Baines informed a senior teacher, Miss Hodges, about the bullying, just as the younger Strickland apprehended Biff, calling him a slacker.
The elder Strickland tried to stop Miss Hodges from intervening, but he was surprised to find out that she was the one who wanted to ship Biff to Idaho, and his younger self stopped her as he believed that Biff could become a good student with the proper guidance. The elder Strickland couldn't do anything else to change things, as he was accused of being a "sex herbert" by the young Biff, and Miss Hodges thought that might be true, as he did touch her when he tried to stop her from interfering.
Devastated that he had changed his own memory as he didn't want to admit to himself that he was the reason why Biff remained in Hill Valley, Strickland walked to an alley, so he wouldn't be seen disappearing by any bystanders, and sat in a crouched position with his head in his lap until time ran out. When he returned to 1983, he was still in that position, and wouldn't respond to anyone.
A week later, the civic committee met again, commenting that no one had been able to reach Strickland since the incident, and he hadn't reported in to the school either (it's unknown which school he was working for, as Hill Valley High School burned down in 1979 and wasn't rebuilt until at least some point after 1985). He blamed himself for everything and didn't want to interact with anyone.
The committee decided that the best attempt to stop Biff would be to prevent him from being born, by stopping the wedding of his parents. The only problem was that no records were available before 1950, since everything was lost after Biff bulldozed the Hill Valley Courthouse to build his casino and hotel. Goldie Wilson realized that they would be able to determine the date by going to the Biff Tannen Museum inside Biff's casino.
Upon arriving at the museum, Doc Brown was required to buy a cigarette and hold it in his hand, due to the museum's "smoking required" policy. He was already disgusted by the museum, but he pressed himself to go on. He learned that Biff's parents, Myra Benson and Kid Tannen (going by Thomas Tannen after being released from prison), married at the Hill Valley Church of the Heather on December 6, 1936.
Doc went back to the committee, and they developed a plan. Doc would arrive at the wedding, and object to the marriage, stating that the bride is already married to his son "Melvin", and that he thinks that she is pregnant. The committee then travels once again to the power grid, where the chamber is hooked up. Doc enters the chamber, disappearing into the past, and the city's power goes out again. This time Biff demands his gang to stop whoever is causing the blackouts.
In 1936, Doc takes a taxi to the church. He is about to object to the wedding, when he hears a baby crying. When the babysitter calls him Biff, Doc realizes he made a mistake. Myra had become pregnant earlier that year. Kid wanted her to have an abortion, but she wouldn't do it, as it was illegal, and she felt that her mother would kill her if she did.
Kid and Myra married 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. Because of this, Kid's mother, Gertrude Tannen, took custody of him. Before he left his son, Kid gave Gertrude a forged birth certificate that stated that Biff was born on March 28, 1937.
Doc planned to come up with a "Plan C" once he arrived in 1983; however, the chamber was now in BiffCo, as the other members of the committee were caught by the Hill Valley Police Department when they couldn't unhook the chamber from the power grid. Biff wanted to know what the refrigerator did, and why it took so much power. Doc refused to tell him, and was committed to Mental Ward B at the Hill Valley Hospital. Sometime prior to 1985, Doc was given a lobotomy, and was placed in permanent residency in the County Asylum.
The Actions of the Original Doc Brown in Hell Valley
Doc, Marty and Jennifer arrived back in 1985 only to discover that history had been altered. To make sense out of all the madness, Doc went to the local library, which was boarded up and shut down, and 'borrowed' some newspapers. As he deduced, Biff had taken the time machine and given the sports almanac to his younger self somewhere in the past, who then became a millionaire by placing bets on the chronicled sporting events. As a result, Biff's wealth had led to a total alteration of Hill Valley to Biff's wishes and supposed alterations to the entire world's history (such as Richard Nixon still being in office and the Vietnam War still being fought in 1985). In this version of history, Doc has been committed to a psychiatric ward since 1983 (he was committed on the same day he won his award in the "proper" history). Doc visited his other self at the asylum, hoping that they would be able to put their heads together to find a solution. Unfortunately, Doc's 1985A self had been lobotomized, and could no longer be communicated with. Since this had prevented this universe's Doc Brown from building the DeLorean Time Machine, this would also be an example of a Grandfather Paradox. Once the time bubble burst, Doc, Marty, Jennifer and Einstein would be erased from existence. Biff also married Marty's mother Lorraine in a sham marriage after Biff killed Marty's father George McFly, of which Biff was never convicted due to corruption in Hill Valley's police force (where Biff literally "owned" the police due to his wealth and/or powerful influence).
Doc perceived this alternate reality as proof how time travel can be abused and why the time machine had to be destroyed, after they corrected the timeline. Marty suggested that they go back to the future to stop 2015 Biff from stealing the time machine, but Doc shot down that plan, for they'd only be going into the future of this reality. After Marty is able to discern that 2015 Biff went back to November 12, 1955, the same day he returned to 1985, Doc commented that date either has some cosmic significance for the whole space-time continuum or an amazing coincidence. Doc and Marty headed back to 1955 to correct the timeline, and while Marty tracked down Biff to get the almanac from him, Doc attempted to make repairs to the time circuits, which kept resetting the Destination Time setting to January 1, 1885. Doc also advised Marty to wait until old Biff gives his younger self the almanac so that he could go back to the future with the DeLorean. Unfortunately, Marty was locked in Biff's garage when Biff of 2015 gave 1955 Biff the almanac. Doc commandeered a bicycle to rescue him, only for Biff to leave for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with Marty still in the back of his car. While making his way back to the DeLorean, Doc came by his past self preparing for the past Marty's return to the future. He gave his younger self a few pointers before walking away to avoid being seen.
Ultimately, Marty succeeded in retrieving the almanac. Doc then started the DeLorean to fly to his position. Marty called Doc over the walkie-talkie, stating that Biff's gang is about to jump his past self singing Johnny B. Goode. Doc advised Marty to covertly stop them otherwise his past self wouldn't make it to the clock tower, thereby resulting in a paradox. Marty was successful in protecting his younger self, but lost the almanac to Biff as he was leaving the gym. Doc picked up Marty and stealthily tailed Biff as he was driving home. They are able to once again snatch the almanac before having Biff slammed into a manure truck for the second time. After that, Marty burned the almanac, setting history straight. However this success was quickly followed by Doc, in the DeLorean, being sent back 70 years to 1885 when a bolt of lightning struck the DeLorean. Simultaneously, a temporal duplicate DeLorean was created and sent forward 70 years to 2025.
Once in 1885, Doc set himself up as a blacksmith while trying to fix the DeLorean, but had to give up as suitable parts to repair the DeLorean's destroyed microchip would not be invented until 1947, with the invention of the transistor. He buried the DeLorean in the abandoned Delgado Mine on the outskirts of town and wrote a letter to Marty to be delivered just minutes after the DeLorean was struck by lightning. The letter was held by Western Union for the next 70 years, and given to Marty in 1955.
In the Old West
Marty received the letter and ran to 1955 Doc, who had just sent the younger Marty back to the future. Marty and Doc uncovered the DeLorean and repaired it, but his orignal pet, Copernicus discovered that in 1885, Doc would be murdered by Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen, ancestor of Biff. Marty headed back to September 2, 1885, the day after Doc wrote the letter and five days before Doc's death, to save his friend (Doc of 1885, who had been born in Timeline 2, is not aware of his impending death. Doc of Timeline 7, born more than 30 years after the 1885 death of Timeline 2 Doc, has seen the tombstone in 1955. Given that the ripple effect does not alter a time traveler's memory-- Marty's memory of his impoverished life is not replaced by memories of growing up in altered timelines -- Doc of 1885 would not know what would happen in the days ahead.
Marty located Doc, and once again Doc had to make repairs to the time machine after it ran out of gasoline (hard to come by in 1885) and accidentally blew out the DeLorean's fuel injector as an effect from using an unusually strong bottle of liquor from the Palace Saloon as a substitute for gas. While making a plan to use a train to push the DeLorean to 88 mph, Doc saved a woman, Clara Clayton, from falling over a ravine after a rattlesnake spooked her horses. They fell in love at first sight, much to the despair of Marty who saw Clara as a distraction. Doc and Clara danced at the town festival on September 5, where Marty managed to save Doc from being shot by Buford Tannen. Doc and Clara spent the rest of the night looking at the stars with her telescope and discovered that they both loved Jules Verne. They then had their first kiss that night.
Later, Doc realized he would have to leave Clara behind when he went back to the future with Marty on Monday. He said goodbye to her and told her the truth about where he came from. Naturally, she did not believe him and slapped him. Broken-hearted, Doc went to have a shot at the Palace Saloon, where Marty found him next morning (Monday) with the same shot. After drinking the shot, he immediately fell down drunk. Marty and Chester the bartender managed to revive Doc with an extremely spicy concoction called wake-up juice which included tabasco sauce, however it took until Buford Tannen arrived for his duel with Marty out in the streets.
Doc was taken hostage by Buford's gang after a failed plan to escape the saloon, however, Marty manages to save Doc from being killed just in time for the Marshal Strickland's deputy to arrest Buford and his gang, which caused the image on the photo of the tombstone to erase. Afterward, Doc and Marty hijacked ("borrowed", as Doc says) a train to use to push the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour. Clara reappeared, having seen everything and realized Doc was telling the truth, but nearly fell off the train. Doc managed to save her, with help from Marty's hoverboard (a piece of technology from 2015), but got left behind with Clara in 1885. Marty managed to get home, but the time machine was destroyed less than a minute after his arrival, meaning he could not go back to rescue Doc and Clara from the past.
Finding a way home
By 1893, the new time machine was complete. Doc and his family attempted to travel to the future, but in an unexpected turn of events, the train was unable to do so. Doc considered giving up, but was inspired by a steam tricycle to build a smaller, temporary time machine - the steam time car. He planned to travel to 2015 and pick up hover technology to upgrade the train back in 1893. Anticipating that the vehicle would fall apart after its first temporal displacement, Doc devised the time parachute as a backup plan, which used the time circuits from the steam time car as a backpack that would allow the time traveler to fall to temporal displacement. Doc promised his family that he would return safely, and set the time circuits for 2015.
Amnesia and reuniting with Marty
Immediately after arriving, Doc crashed into a person, who bounced away as a result of their personal forcefield. This was the first clue that something was not quite right, and after exploring some more, Doc realized that he had overshot and missed 2015, instead time traveling to 2035. Surprisingly, the steam time car had survived the trip, and Doc hid it for later use. He visited his lab to change into more contemporary clothes (though still 20 years out of date), and noticed a note left by Marty McFly dated March 3, 1986. The note specified that Doc had never returned to 1893, which confused him, as he was in no such danger. Seeing no cause for concern, he headed into town to withdraw money. The bank account had been set up under the alias 'Leroy Brown', but improvements in security technology meant that the bank identified his true genetic age, and concluded that he could not be the same Leroy Brown. Now wanted by the police, Doc ran back to where he had hidden the steam time car, officer Griff Tannen of the police force in pursuit. Griff sent out a signal designed to incapacitate mandatory futuristic head implants, but since Doc had never had them installed, it damaged his memory instead. Dazed and confused, Doc remembered the date he had seen on the letter — March 3 1986 — and managed to reach temporal displacement.
Still unsure of his surroundings, Doc crashed into a STOP sign, and left the steam time car there while he returned to his secret lab. He set off a trap on his entrance, alerting a surprised Marty and Jennifer, who had been investigating his 'disappearance' after receiving a letter from Clara. They realized that he could not recall his identity, and helped him retrieve the steam time car from a junkyard that it had been towed to in his absence. Having read the last time departed readout, Marty decided to return to 2035 with Doc, to find out what had caused him to lose his memory. They used the time parachute to go to September 16, 2035.
Doc and Marty decided to rest at Bistro Twenty/15, as it provided at least some degree of familiarity compared to the otherwise alien era. Unfortunately, Griff was also present at the bistro, and recognized Doc as the criminal he had chased earlier. Doc and Marty quickly returned to Doc's secret lab, where Doc fully recovered his memory and attempted to find a way to escape 2035. Marty noted a machine in the center of the room, which had been humming and charging ever since he activated it in 1986. Doc realized that this was the Temporal Field Generator Mk II, which allowed one occupant to return to any hour between its activation and the present. Having no choice but to leave Marty behind, Doc traveled to 2015, where he collected supplies for converting the half-finished DeLorean time machine into a working one. He then traveled once again to 1986, arriving at the mall as Jennifer witnessed his previous self and Marty depart via time parachute. He managed to finish the new DeLorean within a few hours, and returned to 2035 with Jennifer.
They arrived back at the secret lab in time to stop Marty from being arrested by Commisioner Wilson. With Jennifer at the wheel, the three of them escaped Griff, and finally traveled back home to 1986.
Doc drops Marty and Jennifer off at the McFly residence. He gives Marty a bag of canisters, telling him to leave a note in one of them in his secret lab if he ever needs help. He then departs for August 14, 1893, where Clara, Jules and Verne are happy to see him safe. He informs them that he only arrived a day late because wanted to make sure that Clara would write the letter that got Marty's attention about his disappearance. He has brought Einstein with him, who happily jumps on Clara, as Doc hugs his sons, Jules and Verne.
The anniversary present
On September 7, 1893, Doc was still working on upgrading the Jules Verne Train to a hover-converted version. Clara reminded him that the date was their anniversary, and offered him a gift. Doc, realizing that he had not bought anything for her, hastily retreated to the DeLorean time machine and traveled to 2017, unaware that Verne was hiding in the vehicle.
In 2017, Doc left the DeLorean to find a suitable gift for Clara, eventually purchasing a copy of Jules Verne's 'The Lighthouse at the End of the World' from Blast from the Past. But as he prepared to leave, he noticed that Verne had come with him to 2017. Searching for his lost son, Doc discovered that he was safe, and had managed to prevent a robbery while he was gone. Despite Verne's irresponsible behavior, Doc was proud of his son for preventing a crime. Arriving back in 1893, Doc gave his present to Clara, and received his own gift: a notepad and a fountain pen, ironically intended to stop Doc from forgetting important dates.
Encounter with Marcus Irving
At some point on his travels through time, Doc received a message from Marty via the canisters he had provided. He immediately went to 1986 to help Marty, arriving partially covered in bandages, though he assured Marty that he was not injured. Marty informed Doc that Marcus Irving had built his own time machine and was looking for Doc's advice. Doc recognized Irving's name and told Marty that Irving could not be trusted, which was proven when they discovered that Irving had stolen parts from the DeLorean time machine while they were gone. Suddenly, Marty was captured by several identical copies of himself. However, Doc managed to escape, as the hover technology in the DeLorean had not been tampered with.
Flying over Hill Valley, Doc theorized that the timeline could actually consist of parallel realities rather than a single overwriting timeline. He was interrupted when he noticed one of the alternate Marties holding onto the passenger door of the car. Doc did not know that this Marty, like the other Marties from earlier, was actually a robot created by Irving. Not wanting to see any version of Marty McFly get hurt, he let it into the vehicle. The robot attempted to strangle Doc, sending the DeLorean into a spin. Flying past Courthouse Square, Doc continued to struggle with the other Marty, until he accidentally ripped its face off, revealing its true robot self underneath.
He crashed the DeLorean through the garage door of the warehouse where the robots were holding the real Marty captive, and disabled them with a large futuristic gun. Exiting the warehouse, Doc and Marty soon found the other robot that Doc had been fighting in the sky: Needles had mistaken it for the real Marty McFly, and was taunting it.
The android knocked out Needles' gang with a knock out serum mixed with a memory clouding agent that made their memory hazy. It was doing the same to Needles himself, when Marty showed up to stop it. Doc meanwhile, headed to the DeLorean, found that Irving had repaired it, placing the flux capacitor back in place and replacing the tires.
Doc was going to use a remote control override on the android when the aged Marcus Irving used the knock out serum on him. He left Marty and Doc stranded on January 8, 19654 B.C. Doc feigned haziness from the serum, which really didn't affect him since the majority was used on Needles and his gang. This allowed him to lay a trap. Doc knew that Marcus would be afraid of major changes to the timestream. So, he told him, using slurred speech, that their existence in this era might wreck the entire ecosystem.
They then jumped into the river to escape sabre-tooth tigers. Marty barely made it, getting scratched in the face. They climbed a rock, which Doc knew was still solid in 1986, and waited for Irving. As Doc had predicted, he was worried about the butterfly effect that they might cause, so he showed up in his Yugo shortly after they arrived on the rock.
Once Marty and Doc were in the Yugo time machine, one of the androids healed Marty's scratch and they traveled forward to 1997. They were taken to Marcus Irving's lab where he locked them in a room with his androids, telling Marty and Doc that he didn't mind if they were killed in this time period.
Doc used his remote control override, and the DeLorean drove over an android, out of the garage, and up to the penthouse level, where Doc and Marty were being kept, crashing through the window.
The elevator Marcus was on automatically takes Marcus down to the garage level, while Marcus is pushing the button trying to get it to go up. Doc and Marty get into the DeLorean and fly down to the garage.
Doc explains that they can't just go back and stop Marcus from taking the flux capacitor, since the effects on a time traveler aren't instant, pointing out that it took a week for Marty to begin to fade from existence in 1955. Marcus and Doc could get in a reverse time race, with each vehicle going further back in time to try to prevent the other from making changes.
Doc rams the DeLorean into the elevator cord, slowing Marcus down. Marty and Doc then look at all the future technology. Marty sees a photo album and realizes that Marcus had been alone all this time. A female android that has been built to be Marcus Irving's sister comes online, and Doc and Marty realize that Marcus has become a bit crazy during his decade of living all alone.
Marty realizes that his fear of being all alone is what drove him to find Marty in the first place. They decide to take Marcus to his younger self, traveling in the DeLorean back to 1986.
In 1986, Marcus Irving is traveling in his Yugo GX, happy that he has taken the flux capacitor. Marty and Doc arrive from 1997 in the DeLorean, followed by the older Marcus in the Yugo.
Marcus is happy at first that his older self has come back to stop Marty and Doc, until he realizes how imposing he has become. He sees the army of Doc and Marty androids and thinks that everything he told Marty about alternate dimensions was true. However, Marty tells him the truth: that he has become a lunatic, a kidnapper, and a thief.
A woman and her niece get caught in the middle of the ensuing chaos, as the androids are ready to destroy everyone around them. Marcus realizes that he has become a person that he no longer viewed as himself, as his older self is willing to commit murder.
Marcus slams the flux capacitor into the android that is about to attack the innocent bystanders. The older Marcus Irving realizes he was almost a murderer. As he fades from existence, he commented that he is happy for the man he once was, and the man he could become.
The androids and the steel plated Yugo time machine fade from existence, and Marcus tries to explain that he is a scientist and states that the androids that faded from existence were holograms.
The woman introduces herself as Gabriela Sanchez, and her niece as Maria. Gabriela thanks Marcus for saving her life, and asks Marty and Doc who they are. Marty and Doc reply that they are Marcus Irving's friends. Which Marcus replies that they are probably his best friends, who helped him in a moment of crisis.
Needles arrives, and tries to harass Marty, but he wrestles with the unbelievable, and hazy, memories that he has of Marty fighting another Marty without a face. In light of this, he decides to leave Marty alone for a change.
Later, Marty is telling the story of the events to Jennifer while she is at work at Marty is telling the story of the events to Jennifer while she is at work at Shanerburger. Marcus tells Doc and Marty not to embarrass him, since he is on a date with Gabriella.
Marty and Jennifer wonder what will happen to Marcus, and Doc comments that he hopes he returns the Yugo to the authorities as not everyone can be trusted with unlicensed nuclear reactors.
On April 19, Doc continued repairs on the DeLorean after it sustained damage during the robots' attack. Marcus, now friendly, mentions that he has a date with Gabriella in the afternoon and that he shouldn't forget. Doc agrees, and tells him the story of how he forgot to get Clara an anniversary present in 1893. Irving questions Doc's idea of safe time travel, pointing out that he was willing to risk changing the future just for a small present. Doc replied that while Irving was correct that he is a man of science, he is also a man. He says that love has changed his values, and that love is one of the things that shapes human history.
After hearing the parent of the story where Doc realizes Verne is missing, Irving questions why Doc didn't just travel back in time to spy on his past self and see where Verne went. Doc says that it would invoke the law of unintended consequences, and that it should only be done in dire circumstances. Marcus, having heard the entire story, decided that he should not keep Gabriela waiting.
The parole of Joey Baines
On May 10, 1986, Joey Baines is finally released from prison. Biff Tannen appeared worried that Joey had been released from prison, and Marty learned from his brother and sister that he used to idolize his Uncle Joey when he was in elementary school. Marty doesn't remember much about spending time with his uncle, and he realizes that he doesn't even know why Joey was arrested. He asks the Baines family, Betty Parker, Mr. Strickland, and Officer Reese and Officer Foley if they know anything about Joey's arrest. Marty didn't get the answers he sought, so he went to the secret lab to ask Doc.
Doc was in the process of repairing the DeLorean with Marcus Irving, but he took the time to listen to Marty's concerns. When Marty told Doc that his Uncle Joey was released from prison, Doc panicked and told Marty to stay away from his uncle.
After lacking sleep due to having to sleep in his brother's room with his loud snoring, and after hearing his family berating Joey, Marty blew up at his uncle, telling him that he disappointed him and that he disappointed his mother even more. Joey stormed out angrily, and Marty felt bad for his actions. He went to see Doc, but only Marcus was there. He told Marty that he was searching for a part that he claimed he needed to fix the DeLorean, but in reality Doc was just nervous about returning to 1893 since he had promised his family that he'd take them into the future on the time train.
Marty fell asleep, and Marcus brought him into the DeLorean, surprising him with the fact that the DeLorean was fully functional and that he was taking him back to 1972 to help his uncle. They were both surprised to find out that Mrs. Ellsworth was Emmett's mother, and that Doc was in her house the night Joey robbed it. They felt that they couldn't keep up their plan with Doc involved, so they intended to head back to 1986. However, the DeLorean was missing, stranding Marcus and Marty back in 1972, which left Doc in 1986 without the DeLorean.
Eventually, Doc was able to get access to the DeLorean, and he was able to return to his family in 1893. Since the Jules Verne Train was hover converted, and fully functional, Doc and his family briefly returned to 1985 to visit Marty and Jennifer before heading off to times unknown. Doc's parting advice to them was "Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one, both of you." Emmett Brown had come a long way from the time when he believed that "No man should know too much about his own destiny".
Returning to 1931 Hill Valley
By May 1986, Doc had been away from his residence long enough that George McFly took it upon himself to make sure that his possessions were turned over to good hands. Marty had not seen Doc for over six months from his last appearance on the train tracks, but suddenly the DeLorean time machine appeared outside his house, as part of an automatic retrieval feature, with Einstein inside. Doc had left Marty a recording of his voice instructing Marty to locate him. Using a shoe left in the floorboard of the car, Einstein was able to sniff the owner of the shoe, and led Marty to meeting up with Doc in 1931. Doc had previously sought to solve the mystery of a Hill Valley speakeasy that burned down in Courthouse Square, however ended up caught during the explosion and knocked out with a brick to the head. Upon coming to, Doc woke up behind the bars of a jail cell, and Irving "Kid" Tannen, a notorious gangster, was blaming him for the explosion. Tannen would kill Doc, unless Marty intervened.
When Marty arrived in 1931, Doc told him of the events that led to his arrest, and instructed Marty to encounter his younger self, the young Emmett Brown working for his father Judge Brown in the Hill Valley Courthouse. While Marty and young Emmett concocted a plan to get 190 proof grain alcohol for a drill that would bust Doc out of jail, Kid Tannen picked up Doc and hauled him away to outside of Hill Valley. Marty caught up with the van, and foiled Kid's attempt to murder Doc.
On the return trip to 1986
When Doc learned in passing that Emmett and Edna were going on a movie date, he checked his Frankenstein ticket stub and realized that something was terribly wrong, but was too late in telling Marty to abort traveling to 1986. When Marty arrived in what he thought was the corrected 1986, it turned out to be yet another alternate timeline: 1986G, in which Emmett had been married to Edna Strickland and became the enigmatic First Citizen Brown. Marty purposely committed several offenses in this new utopian/dystopian version of Hill Valley and was sent to the First Citizen's office. Upon jogging Brown's memory about the past, by pointing Doc Brown out in a photograph, Marty was able to convince him mildly that he was a time traveler, however Brown still was not convinced. Only after revealing that the Citizen Plus Program was really a ploy to control the minds of residents did Brown fall on the side of Marty. Marty handed him Doc's notebook from the original timeline. Most of the pages were blank, save for one: the sketch of the flux capacitor. The image was nearly identical to the image of the man with open arms that had represented his vision of a perfect society. This realization sent him reeling to repair the DeLorean, however, unfortunately on his way back home he was detained by the police force on behalf of his wife Edna.
Eventually, Citizen Brown was rescued by Marty, who was disguised as a security guard in the Citizen Plus ward, from becoming a victim of the Citizen Plus Program himself. Citizen Brown and Marty managed to escape from the ward, and evade Edna's capture. At this point, Citizen Brown headed off to fix the wrecked DeLorean (which he had moved to his secret lab near Clayton Ravine), but could not bring Marty along, as it would create a paradox. Citizen Brown then told Marty to stay off the streets for a few seconds, but, after Citizen Brown takes a few minutes to return, Marty became worried. Citizen Brown arrives, revealing that it actually took him six months to repair the DeLorean, along with his family fortune and a "sketchy deal" with Libyans. However, once Brown discovered that he arrived a few minutes after he initially left, instead of a few seconds as he intended, he became concerned, but shrugged it off, and departed, along with Marty, for 1931.
Marty and Citizen Brown arrived in 1931, which brought back a lot of memories for Brown. However, it was soon revealed to both himself and Marty that there was a serious problem with the time circuits, as they had jumped to October 12, 1931, the first day of the Hill Valley Science Expo, not August 26, 1931 as they had originally intended. This error in destination confirmed Brown's fears about the time circuits, which caused Brown and Marty to alter their plans, as they only had a day to break up Emmett and Edna. Brown later proceeded to remain at Hill Valley High School while Marty was executing his plan to break up Emmett and Edna. During this time, he was mainly distracting Edna, talking to her about a "private matter". After Marty requested to use the DeLorean to get to Emmett's lab, Citizen Brown tested the time circuits by traveling one minute into the past, but ended up going back six hours. This gave him time to go to the hardware store and buy parts for a chronometric analyzer, to help fix the time circuits. He then tested the time circuits twice more later.
As the expo was about to begin, Citizen Brown began to have second thoughts about his and Marty's plan, and discussed the possibility of a "third way" where "everybody wins" with Marty, after Marty revealed that his timeline's Edna was sad and lonely. Marty declined, which led a disgruntled Citizen Brown to leave Marty. Later that night, he found a sad Edna walking along a dirt road, as she had just broken up with Emmett. He offered to give her a ride, and tells her that everything will be okay. At this point, Citizen Brown formed a plan with Edna to stop Marty, and get Emmett back in Edna's arms.
The next day, Brown almost ran over Marty outside the high school. At this point, Brown revealed to Marty that he had decided to stop Emmett's Expo demonstration, in hopes of preventing his scientific future and getting him back with Edna. This is the point where Marty and Citizen Brown's alliance officially severed. After escaping from Marty, Brown managed to get Emmett to follow him into the Atlas House of Glass, where Brown presented Emmett with a business proposition (the details of which were never revealed, only that it would've required Emmett to leave the Expo). Eventually, Brown got Emmett to inhale chloroform, and stashed him in the bathysphere exhibit, while he disguised himself as the diver Jacques Douteux who supervises the exhibit. Marty caught onto this and managed to rescue Emmett, though only after nearly killing Emmett, and, in turn, Citizen Brown. Brown then ran off outside. Marty witnessed Edna run into Brown outside, who then pushed him to the ground is desperation to steal the DeLorean in order to evade capture by Detective Parker. While this occurred, Emmett pulled off his demonstration, and Citizen Brown, in turn, began to fade out. Marty ran outside to help him; Brown admitted that he had failed to change her and warned Marty to stay back because Edna was driving like a madwoman across the school lawn to evade Parker. As she came up behind Marty, Brown shoved him out of harm's way and was struck by the DeLorean instead. Horrified, Marty held his hand and insisted he could get help for Brown even as he continued to fade, but Brown simply shook his head and asked to see the newspaper from 1986, which revealed that Emmett, as Doc, would become an inventor and get the Key to the City. Though Marty wanted to try to get Brown to a hospital, smiling and satisfied, Citizen Brown stated the belief that he would "be okay" and died just before he faded from existence.
A few minutes later, the DeLorean reappeared in the high school parking lot, and Doc (as Marty remembered him) emerged from it, having returned to 1931 from the award ceremony shown on the newspaper due to the "explanation" that Marty gave Doc's younger self seconds before Doc arrived. At this point, Detective Parker drove up, claiming that he thought "that car" disappeared, as he pointed out that Edna just disappeared in exactly the same car. After he said this, Doc became incredibly concerned, hoping Edna jumped into the future. However, just as he said this, Hill Valley vanished, and both Marty and Doc became surprised by this. William McFly then drove up, and when Doc and Marty asked what happened to Hill Valley, William replied that he had no idea what "Hill Valley" was. He knew there was a town there before he was born and said that Mary Pickford could answer any questions they have. Doc and Marty walked to her house, and discovered that "Mary Pickford" was actually an old Edna under an alias. After deducing that she had Repressive Memory Syndrome, they managed to help create a scene through which she relived her memories and revealed everything that had happened to her: she had attempted to burn down a saloon being built by Beauregard Tannen, but ended up also accidentally burning down all of Hill Valley. She then showed them the newspaper article detailing the story, which dated the event to 2:00 am July 17, 1876.
Doc and Marty traveled back to 1876 and located the saloon. Splitting up, Doc entered from the back and found Edna preparing to burn it down, but at this point, Beauregard Tannen had woken up and found both of them. This led to a "Mexican standoff", which only ended after Marty managed to put out Edna's torch and disarm Tannen at the same time, by dropping various resources from around the saloon onto their heads. Doc knocked Tannen out with a punch (which he didn't want Marty to tell Clara about), but they then heard Edna escaping in her DeLorean, which prompted Marty and Doc to chase after her in the hovering DeLorean.
Once Doc and Marty caught up to Edna's DeLorean, Doc noticed that it had diagnostic lights all over it, which he noted were put on there by his alternate self. Doc instructed Marty to take the hoverboard and slip some flux overrides over the diagnostic lights, which he successfully performed. This allowed Doc to sync up with and take control of Edna's DeLorean. Discovering through the readings that the temporal cohesion of her DeLorean was rapidly decaying, he quickly activated the time circuits of both cars and towed her home to 1931 (the correct timeline). Doc and Marty witnessed Edna's arrest for evading arrest and driving under the influence, due to crashing into the side of the police station, and the temporal breakdown and self-destruction of her stolen DeLorean as time caught up with it. They discovered Trixie's true identity as Marty's grandma Sylvia McFly, and returned to a slightly improved 1986. Marty told Doc that he had to stop the estate sale, but Doc has no idea what he was talking about, saying that he was just having a garage sale. He also noted that he and his family maintained a part-time residence in 1986, which pleased Marty. Doc then presented Marty with a gift, which was a full documentation of Marty's family history in Hill Valley. At this point, Doc revealed why he traveled back to 1931 -- to find info on Marty's grandma Sylvia, unaware that she was Trixie Trotter. Marty then thanked him, and Doc said that it was the least he could do for "the man who saved me from making the worst mistake of my life."
Just then, Edna appeared with Einstein, confusing Doc and Marty. Doc asked what she was doing, and she explained that she was doing what she did every afternoon: giving Einstein exercise. Kid Tannen then pulled up, and told Edna that they were late (revealing that they were now married), with Edna asking where her stepson (Biff) was. Doc told Marty not to say anything, and to just "walk quietly into the lab and hope there are no more surprises". Just then, a future Marty appeared and told Doc that he had to come back to the future with him. Two more Martys then appeared, further confusing Doc and Marty. They decided to ignore it, and Doc and Marty departed for an unknown time.
The second DeLorean time machine
The Brown family eventually moved back to the 20th century and by 1991, Doc had set up the Institute of Future Technology. He also invented an 8-seater DeLorean, which came in handy after Biff stole the time machine again, and visitors to the Institute, sitting in one of these 8-seaters, had to help Doc chase Biff through time.
On April 22, 1990, Doc arrived at St. Terra Hospital in Anytown after Mother Nature became ill due to the heavy pollution on Earth. Once there, he shared knowledge of the details causing her illness and what could be done to help her with Doogie Howser and several other doctors on staff.
Also by 1991, Doc, Clara, Jules, and Verne lived in a farmhouse outside Hill Valley with Einstein. The family, along with Marty, traveled through time in both the Jules Verne train time machine and the new DeLorean (which from the outside looked identical to the old one, but was drastically different inside).
Little is known of Doc in the 2000s and 2010s, prior to time travel. Assuming he aged normally in one timeline, he would have been into his 90s and almost 100 by 2015. After his initial trip to the future, however, he explained to Marty that he went to a clinical rejuvenation clinic, replacing, amongst other things, his colon and spleen. This most certainly would have extended his lifespan some.
Doc may have spent some time in the 2000s with his wife Clara and sons Jules and Verne, although the family never settled on one decade, instead choosing to spend their lives in multiple decades, moreover the old West. In 2006, his Institute of Future Technology was replaced by another building.
Personality and traits
Doc is a highly brilliant, quirky scientist who is passionate about science but is quite crazy, almost to be a point of being pretty nuts, as he has taken part in actually stealing plutonium, and having terrorists come after him. Despite his quirkiness, Doc does care about those he's close to. He's kind-hearted, supportive, encouraging, and plays as a positive mentor to Marty, to a point of actually being quite paternal. Though Doc is incredibly clever and inventive, he could be absent-minded at times and was regarded by many of Hill Valley's townsfolk as abnormal or as a nutty mad scientist. As such, he had few friends (the only known friends were his dog, Marty McFly, and Marty's girlfriend Jennifer Parker). Because of this, Doc was often seen as a loner. However, Doc cared about the people he was close to. Doc did not believe in "love at first sight" until he ended up meeting his future wife Clara Clayton in 1885 since he did not see how such a feeling worked.
As a scientist and a time traveler, he takes his job very seriously. Doc often worked through the night on his inventions and could become obsessed with little things. He would always try to use a big word rather than a small one if one is available – for example, he referred to a dance as a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual". He could also be a showoff with his knowledge, as when he saw a dinosaur tooth and identified it as a "third incisor from the apex of the dental bridge". Doc often used the phrase "Great Scott!" as an exclamation. He also liked jazz music, Jules Verne novels, and Westerns Green was his favorite color, one that he found soothing. Although he had a perchance to gamble, he would never use time travel for that reason. Doc did not usually drink alcoholic beverages since he had a tendency to pass out after just one drink, especially when that drink was whiskey. He was allergic to all synthetic fabrics.
Doc sometimes went to great lengths, even illegal acts, that would allow him to complete his projects. He cheated Libyan terrorists out of an unspecified amount of plutonium, and would have died as a result had Marty not intervened. Although he was usually careful about being discreet with the DeLorean, he referred to the time machine as a time machine in public, leading Biff Tannen to use it without Doc's knowledge in an attempt to alter history. In 1985, he flew land-based vehicles with hover conversions during the daytime, with no consideration of the possibility of people seeing him.
Behind the scenes
- In the Back to the Future first draft screenplay, Emmett Brown's title is Professor, not Doctor, and Marty refers to him as "Prof". Professor Brown is also running a secret black market operation with Marty, who is a streetwise video pirate in this draft; and has a pet chimpanzee named Shemp instead of a dog.
- Writer Bob Gale has denied the rumor that the name Emmett Lathrop was derived by spelling the words "time" and "portal" backwards. He and Robert Zemeckis simply chose names that sounded good and were out of the ordinary, as a contrast with the common last name "Brown".
- The "L" in Emmett L. Brown's name stands for "Lathrop", it has been speculated that this may have been his mother's maiden name, although there is no evidence for this.
- The novelization and screenplays states that he is 65 in 1985, although an episode of the animated series claims he was born in 1922. In Back to the Future: The Game, Emmett is 17 in 1931, which means that he was born in 1914.
- "Christopher Lloyd says that his model for creating the character was actually the conductor Leopold Stokowski, with the hair that way, and the big, broad gestures. Doc Brown walks around like he's conducting the orchestra of the world." - Bob Gale
- In addition, Albert Einstein was an influence to the character.
- It has been speculated that "Doc" is supposed to be a relative of real-life scientist Wernher von Braun.
- Doc's family was presumably from the German Empire or Austria-Hungary.
- First Citizen Brown's balding and spectacled appearance in the game looked similar to Christopher Lloyd's real-life appearance as in the 2010s.
- The exterior of Doc Brown's 1955 house at the beginning of the film is actually the Gamble House in Pasadena, California.
- The interior of Doc Brown's 1955 Mansion is the Blacker House. It was built by architects Charles Greene and Henry Greene; the same architects that built the Gamble House.
- Robert Zemeckis, co-writer/director of the films, has suggested that during the early 1940s, Doc worked on the Manhattan Project (which could explained the reason why the Libyan terrorists specifically picked Doc to build them a nuclear weapon), though this is never mentioned on screen.
- In a 2002 question and answer session at USC for the DVD of Back to the Future, Zemeckis said that John Lithgow had been considered for the role of Doc Brown, but Lithgow was unavailable. Producer Neil Canton, who had recently worked with Lithgow on The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, suggested Christopher Lloyd, who had been in the film as well.
- In the 2009 documentary Looking Back to the Future, one of the features on the 2009 DVD re-release of Back to the Future, Zemeckis said that Jeff Goldblum, who had also been in Buckaroo Banzai, was the next choice if Lloyd declined the role.
- Lloyd, in the 2009 documentary, said that he had an offer for an off-Broadway theatrical production at the same time that he would be filming Back to the Future, and debated whether to appear on stage, or portraying Doc Brown.
- Doc owns a clock that is shown at the beginning of Back to the Future Part I that shows an old man in a jacket and a hat hanging on to the minute hand just like the 1955 Doc later on in the movie and also resembled Harold Lloyd (no relation) in "Safety Last".
- If one looks very closely at each time Doc is shot by the Libyans, the second time has a very obvious difference to show that he didn't really die. The first Doc (with no knowledge) gets fired upon so much, he literally balances on one foot before toppling over backwards. The second Doc (with the foresight to wear the vest) merely waves up his arms and then falls backwards using his arms for some cushion.
- Strangely enough, the first time Doc is shot by the Libyans, there is no blood at all, when it should have painted Doc's van (one could conclude he had the vest because it could have been a predestination paradox). However, one likely explanation is that when Doc first died, he was sent recoiling by the gunfire and landed on the parking lot pavement, thus any blood could have seeped there. However, the film producers likely did not want to focus on blood as that was not that crucial to the plot, only that Marty must now go back in time to warn the younger Doc. Other likely explanation is not wishing to jeopardize their overall family-friendly image of the film by risking it getting rated "PG-13" or "R".
- Christopher Lloyd got nominated for Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for Doc (BTTF1).
- The brief "Hi" that Doc and Lorraine give each other, after Lorraine follows Marty to Doc's garage (besides being the only time in any of the three films that Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson share a scene), is the only time that Doc directly interacts with any member of the McFly family, aside from Marty, on-screen. Doc did also incapacitate Marty McFly, Jr. with his sleep inducer in 2015, but this was only mentioned and never seen.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future novelization
- Back to the Future: The Story
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future Part II novelization
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future Part III novelization
- Back to the Future: The Pinball
- The Earth Day Special (Non-canonical appearance)
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- "A Family Vacation"
- "Forward to the Past"
- "Roman Holiday"
- "Go Fly a Kite"
- "Time Waits for No Frog"/Einstein's Adventure"
- "Solar Sailors"
- "Dickens of a Christmas"
- "Gone Fishin'"
- "Clara's Folks"
- "Mac the Black"
- "Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!" (First onscreen mention of Emmett Brown's middle name Lathrop.)
- "Marty McFly PFC"
- "Bravelord and the Demon Monstrux"
- "The Money Tree"
- "A Verne by Any Other Name"
- "Hill Valley Brown-Out"
- "My Pop's an Alien"
- "Super Doc"
- "St. Louis Blues"
- "Verne Hatches an Egg"
- All live-action segments (as portrayed by Christopher Lloyd)
- Back to the Future comic series
- Back to the Future: The Ride
- McDonald's Commerical (Non-canonical appearance)
- The Simpsons Ride (Non-canonical appearance)
- Back to the Future: The Card Game
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)
Notes and references
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
- "Gone Fishin'"
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part III
- BTTF novel p. 114
- A draft script suggests he got into science when he stuck his finger in an electrical socket.
- according to the first draft of the third film
- Back to the Future novelization, page 46
- Back to the Future Co-Creator Bob Gale Explains How Doc and Marty Became Friends
- Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Times, Issue 2: "Science Project".
- Back to the Future Part II
- It is speculated that since Biff was warned by his older self upon delivery of the almanac that a "crazy, wild-eyed old scientist" would ask about it someday, Biff was the one who had Doc committed, but no concrete evidence is provided in the film.
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown
- Back to the Future: The Ride
- The Earth Day Special
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- "Verne Hatches an Egg"
- BTTF novel p.128
- Gale, Bob, "Back to the Future Myths and Misinformation Debunked by Bob Gale", bttf.com News, Nov. 11, 2010.
|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