- "George McFly was forty-seven but seemed much older to Marty. An uninspired man who was generally afraid to take even the tiniest daring step, not having changed his haircut in over thirty years, he was dressed in an equally boring suit he had purchased four years before at Sears."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 28)
- "I'm George, George McFly, and I'm your density. I mean, I'm your destiny."
- —George trying to ask Lorraine out
George Douglas McFly is the father of Dave, Linda and Marty McFly, and the husband of Lorraine Baines McFly. He was of Irish-American ancestry as his paternal great-grandparents Seamus and Maggie McFly had emigrated from Ireland prior to 1885.
George McFly was born on April 1, 1938 in Hill Valley, California. He was the only child of Arthur McFly and his Canadian-born wife Sylvia Miskin, who were living on Sycamore Street as of 1955. His parents Arthur McFly and Sylvia Miskin were married in 1936. He was also the grandson of William McFly, the first member of the McFly family to be born in the United States.
When he was 12, he nearly stood up for a friend, Billy Stockhausen, who was being bullied, but did not and has hated himself for it ever since. In 1954, he tried reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, but the advice he gained from this book made people stay away from him even more — with the exception of Biff who, on their first encounter at high school, rubbed a hero sandwich in George's face.
George was probably bullied from a very early age, not just by Biff but by other classmates such as Mark Dixon and even by some adults including Stanford S. Strickland. He had been attracted to Lorraine for some time by 1955 (they may have met for the first time upon entering high school) but was too scared to ask her out.
On November 5, 1955, George and Lorraine fell in love, when her father Sam Baines knocked George over in his car due to George falling out of a tree into the road (he had been "birdwatching", watching Lorraine get undressed from the tree). The Baines family took George into the house and Lorraine felt sorry for him. In a "Florence Nightingale" effect, she fell in love with him and they had their first date a week later, at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. George had been considering college but waited until the deadline to decide whether or not to send in the application. He knew his father would talk him out of it, so he likely gave up.
George and Lorraine were married on December 7, 1958, and moved into Lyon Estates, their first child Dave was born in 1963. followed by Linda McFly in 1966 and Marty in 1968. Despite these changes, By 1985, George stayed much the same as he was when he was 17. He was dominated by his now supervisor Biff, most of his colleagues and even his neighbors, and even kept the same hairstylers. George did not develop the courage to stand up for himself or even for his wife, which depressed her so much that she became an alcoholic, a smoker and overweight. The story of George's life would be rewritten when Marty traveled back into the past.
On the morning of Saturday, November 5, 1955, 17 year old George McFly was eating cereal at Lou's Cafe when Biff Tannen and his gang walked into the restaurant. George, who was regularly bullied by Biff, had escaped worse treatment by doing Biff's homework for him. On that day, however, George hadn't done the work quickly enough and Biff had singled him out. After the gang left, George noticed that he was being stared at by a teenager sitting next to him not knowing that it was his future son, Marty. Before George could find out what the stranger wanted, one of Lou's employees, Goldie Wilson, nagged George about not standing up to Biff. George rode away on his bike.
Later that morning, George was getting a thrill by climbing up into a tree across the street from Lorraine Baines and spying on her as she undressed. George lost his grip and nearly fell, but was able to drop to the street. As he tried to stand up, he was shoved by someone who was then struck by a car. George was startled to see that it was the same guy who had been staring at him at Lou's Cafe. Rather than confronting the angry driver of the car, George fled the scene. On Monday at school, George was being tormented by Mark Dixon and another group of students, who had placed a "Kick Me" sign on his back. To make matters worse, Mr. Strickland then lectured him about being a slacker. As George picked up his books, he was not pleased that the stranger — who now identified himself as "Marty" —was again following him. The stranger claimed to be "the guy who saved your life" and then tried to introduce George to Lorraine, in what turned out to be a humiliating experience. Lorraine ignored George and talked instead to Marty, although she called him "Calvin".
When George went to the cafeteria to eat lunch and to work on writing stories, there was Marty again, taking a seat at the table and asking to look at what was being written. Marty stated that Lorraine Baines wanted George to ask her to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. George was reluctant to approach her, fearing rejection and was not happy to see that Biff had taken an interest in her as well. When Marty went over to confront Biff, George left as quickly as possible. After school, George noticed that the annoying stranger was, once again, trying to catch up with him. Though George preferred to avoid confrontation, he turned on Marty and demanded to know "Why do you keep following me around?". And once again, Marty was trying to get George to ask out Lorraine. George had had enough and told Marty that "neither you, nor anyone on the planet" was going to make him go to dance. That night at 12:23 AM, however, George would have an unnerving experience that would make him realize that the stranger was right and that George indeed did need to ask Lorraine Baines out on a date.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, George woke up suddenly to the loud sound of music and bizarre noise, to find himself facing what appeared to be a man from outer space. The entity, garbed in yellow, was not unlike a picture on the cover of one of George's science fiction magazines. When George asked, "Who are you?", the visitor sent out another wave of deafening noise and said, in perfect English, "Silence, Earthling!" The spaceman then identified himself as an extra-terrestrial named Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan.
"Vader" ordered George to ask Lorraine for a date or he would melt George's brain. George overslept and did not go to school, but on Tuesday afternoon, he sought out Marty's help. Marty seemed slow in some respects — he apparently had never used a bottle opener on a vending machine — but he had good ideas for things to say to Lorraine and George took notes. George went into the cafe, ordered a chocolate milk to bolster his courage and then walked up to Lorraine's table. As he was getting her attention, however, Biff walked in. Biff, who had warned George never to come into the cafe, demanded costs. George was about to reach for his wallet, when Marty stepped in. Biff, who was tripped, and then punched, by Marty, chased Marty out of the cafe, and the gang followed. At this point, everyone in the cafe was noticing the stranger, and they watched a chase that ended with Biff and his gang crashing into a manure truck. George, who had found the courage to talk to Lorraine, was dismayed when he saw that she was clearly attracted to Marty. Once again, George walked away.
It was clear, however, that Marty was not attracted to Lorraine; and that Marty, for whatever reason, still wanted George to take Lorraine to the dance. Marty, who drove a fancy Packard convertible, presented George with a bizarre plan, and they discussed it while hanging laundry on a clothesline at the McFly home. To George, the plan made little sense. Marty was going to ask Lorraine out and take her to the dance; George would go to the dance by himself; Marty would pretend to "take advantage" of Lorraine, George would come to the "rescue" at precisely 9 o'clock; George would punch Marty in the stomach, Marty would pretend to be hurt and George would win Lorraine's heart. George was nervous about the scheme, but Marty assured him that he had nothing to be afraid of. Marty added, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything".
George dressed in a white tuxedo and went to the dance alone, as planned. Shortly after 9:00 pm, as the band took a break, George walked out to Marty's car, witnessed a struggle inside and, as planned, delivered his line, "Hey you, get your damn hands off her". George was horrified when he found out that he was facing Biff instead of Marty. He was about to walk away, until he realized that Lorraine was in trouble. For the first time, George stood up to Biff and said, "You leave her alone". An angry Biff then prepared to break George's right arm. When Biff pushed Lorraine down, George's fear turned to anger. George's left hand clinched into a fist and George threw a punch so hard that Biff was knocked out cold. George helped Lorraine to her feet and walked with her into the dance.
For a moment, it appeared that the dance had ended early, along with George's date, because the band's guitar player had injured his hand. The dance resumed, however, with a substitute; George and Lorraine were surprised to see Marty come on stage to play the guitar. George was dancing slowly with Lorraine as the band played Earth Angel, and he was unsure about kissing her. Suddenly, Dixon cut in on the couple and pulled Lorraine away. Humiliated once again, George started to walk off, until he saw Marty and he turned around. Having knocked out Biff, George realized that he no longer needed to be afraid of a fight. George shoved Dixon out of the way and kissed Lorraine for the first time. As the couple finished dancing to Earth Angel, a newly confident George acknowledged Marty.
The dance wasn't yet over. Marty began to play a song that nobody had heard and everyone was dancing as Marty sang about Johnny B. Goode. As George and Lorraine danced to the fast-paced music, he found that for the first time, he was popular. Students were congratulating him and suggesting that he run for class president. The song ended unexpectedly as Marty began playing the electric guitar erratically and although the dance music ended on a sour note, George's newfound confidence was just beginning. After the dance, the couple agreed that they needed to talk to Marty who, after all, had brought Lorraine to the dance. Marty, however, was delighted that George and Lorraine had become boyfriend and girlfriend, and wished them good luck. George thanked Marty for his good advice. Before leaving, Marty joked that if George and Lorraine ever had children and one of them set fire to a rug, they should "go easy on him, okay?" Although it was another odd remark from a strange young man, George laughed and replied, "Okay." George and Lorraine never saw Calvin Marty Klein again, but George never lost the confidence that Marty had helped him find. As in the original timeline, George purchased a house at Lyon Estates. However, in this timeline the house was nicer looking and better decorated. It was unknown what career George has chosen prior to realizing his dream as a writer, but he seemed to have achieved some success in that given the decent state of the McFly residence. Shortly before 1985, George's love of sci-fi and talent from stories came to fruition. His first book, a bestselling science-fiction novel, A Match Made in Space, based in part on the mysterious encounter that had preceded his first date with Lorraine. By 1985, George McFly and Lorraine had been happily married for many years and had three grown children, David, Linda, and Martin, the youngest of whom, coincidentally, was nicknamed Marty.
By 2015, George was still happily married to Lorraine and enjoyed the odd game of golf. On October 21, 2015, he had claimed he had hurt his back on the golf course and was being held upside-down in an Ortho-lev machine to treat it. However, he had been hit by a flying car that fell from the sky.
In an alternate timeline where Biff Tannen controlled Hill Valley, George was the husband of Lorraine Baines McFly, before she was widowed and forced to marry Biff Tannen. Biff, who had gone back to 1955 and given himself Grays Sports Almanac results from the future, had now placed bets on results which he had the answers to, and became a millionaire.
In 1973, George McFly, Goldie Wilson, Stanford S. Strickland, the editor of the Hill Valley Telegraph, Mark Dixon, and three other individuals turned the Hill Valley Civic Committee into a secret organization, to protest BiffCo, which Biff Tannen was using to further his own interests.
On March 15 (referring to the Ides of March in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar), 1973, Biff shot and murdered George in an alleyway (this was primarily so that he could marry Lorraine, his widow), when George was on his way to receive a book award. George was buried in Oak Park Cemetery.
Biff had one of the members of the Hill Valley Police Department, which he owned in this timeline, plant George's wallet on Red the Bum, thus framing him for George's murder and resulting in the innocent vagrant being arrested and charged.
On the day of his 'death', George had now won an award for his writing.
Six months after Doc Brown's mysterious disappearance, the bank forecloses on his house and sets up an estate sale to pay his debts. George, out of respect for his son's friend, managed to be put in charge of the sale and promised Marty that everything would be well taken care of. He also allowed Marty to claim a single item from Doc's estate as a memento, with Marty claiming Doc's notebook in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands (Biff's especially). Unbeknownst to George, Marty left from the estate sale in a copy of the DeLorean time machine upon receiving a message from Doc saying that he was in trouble.
Also, as of now, Marty has been holding onto a photo of George.
After Marty returned from rescuing Doc in 1931, he was horrified to discover that George was a wreck, having been beaten to the point of paraplegia by the Tannen Crime Family prior to Marty's birth in 1968. George and Lorraine, living in fear of the Tannens, made regular payments of "protection money" in order to keep Biff and his brothers Cliff and Riff away. When Marty discovered that his changes to the timeline had prevented Irving "Kid" Tannen from going to jail as he should have, he and Doc returned to 1931 to set things right.
In the dystopian 1986 lead by First Citizen Brown and his wife Mrs. Citizen Edna Brown, George worked as a security monitor, constantly spying on Hill Valley through a system of video cameras in order to monitor misbehavior and report it to Citizen Brown. As a result of alterations to the timeline, Marty never traveled to 1955 and as such George is still a spineless wimp, though this time his oppressor is the state rather than Biff. His poor attitude and constant surveillance put great stress on his marriage with Lorraine, driving her to drink. This only made things worse, since it encouraged George to monitor her in an attempt to catch her in the act and try and help her. While talking with Marty, he revealed that despite the idyllic facade, Hill Valley was full of dissent against the Browns, which he had compiled into a tape but would never show them due to fear. When Marty finally convinced him to come forward with the evidence, George was assaulted by a brainwashed Biff, who stole the tape. Marty ran off after learning this, just barely missing an argument between George and Lorraine that ended with her going to join the Citizen Plus Program. George later found Marty in the Citizen Plus facility, and used his control over Hill Valley's cameras to help break the Citizen Plus brainwashing on Jennifer Parker, who in turn helped Marty escape along with Citizen Brown. As the pair hid in recycling bins, Marty observed as George punched out a security guard who was harassing Lorraine and them reconciling by kissing passionately. When more guards came, Marty was prepared to run out and help, but Citizen Brown convinced him to stay hiding by saying that once they corrected the timeline, none of this would have happened and the McFlys would be safe and sound.
In the final revision of the timeline, George's parents were married on October 13, 1931 instead of in 1936 as in the original timeline. However, this did not alter the circumstances of his birth nor did it appear to otherwise alter the events of his life to a significant degree.
Behind the scenes
- George became a minor character in the sequels when Crispin Glover refused to return due to salary disputes. As a result, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale created a story that could sustain itself without him, hence the alternate history in which George is secretly murdered by Biff. Another actor, Jeffrey Weissman, was cast (wearing make-up to resemble Glover) in the two sequels, in any new scenes shot, and Part II also reused some footage of Glover from the first film — billing him in the closing credits as 'George McFly in footage from Back to the Future'. Glover successfully sued Universal Studios for using the footage without his permission and without paying him. This would subsequently result in new rules about the use of archival footage.
- George's being strapped into the Ortho-lev machine upside-down in 2015 was in reality to disguise the change in actor from Crispin Glover to Jeffrey Weissman.
- Although the novelization for the first film says his birthday is August 18, the April 1 date is seen on his tombstone in Back to the Future Part II.
- George had only one line in Back to the Future Part III ("I can't find my other glasses. Lorraine, have you seen my glasses?"), and he is the same character he was at the end of the first film.
- In the original screenplay, George becomes a boxer when Marty alters the future in a positive way.
- At the school dance in Part II, Biff can be seen placing alcohol in the dance punch. In Part I, George is shown drinking the punch before confronting Biff in the parking lot. It may be that George's uncharacteristic courage while confronting Biff is attributable to drinking the spiked punch.
- There is a fan-theory that 1985 George knows that "Calvin" and Marty are the same person. There are many things in the first film supporting this theory:
- The fact that Marty and "Calvin" look exactly the same, so it's very unlikely that Marty's father wouldn't have noticed their resemblance, although George could have just forgotten what "Calvin" looked like - he only knew him for 8 days, and didn't even see him on every one of those 8 days, so his memory of him could be hazy.
- "Calvin" mentioned several products that had not been yet invented, right next to George in the cafe (such as Tab and Pepsi Free sodas) and made a few pop culture references from the 1960s to the 1980s that George as a sci-fi fan would have found odd at the time but picked up on later, like Darth Vader and planet Vulcan. For example, "Calvin" tried to twist the bottlecap off of a soda by hand shortly before the skateboard chase with Biff, but twist-off bottle caps weren't invented until the 1960s - if he were truly a 1955 teenager, he would know that it'd be infeasible to remove a bottlecap from the bottle by hand and wouldn't attempt to do so.
- It wouldn't be that far off that George, as a sci-fi nerd, thought of time travel as a possibility whilst trying to link "Calvin" and Marty together, especially since Marty hangs around with eccentric scientist Doc Brown. If George allows Marty to be friends with Doc, then he must have at least some small idea of what Doc was attempting to invent (a time machine) - it's unlikely he would just allow his son to be best friends with a potentially dangerous man possibly building something such as a weapon.
- Just when he's at the right age to be "Calvin", Marty gets a new truck as a present. This could be George thanking him for everything he did in the past. However, this could also have been that Marty expressed interest in the vehicle beforehand and George's acquisition of the truck matched up with the success of him publishing A Match Made in Space.
- George would have likely recognized the song (or at least the style of music) that "Darth Vader from planet Vulcan" played from his Walkman as a torture method in 1955, as Marty was a fan of rock and by the 1970s, the band behind the song (Van Halen) had taken the music scene by force with their unique sound, which was present in the song Darth Vader had played. Whilst some would argue that George would not remember the song Marty played to him, it is important to remember that the Van Halen sound was distinctive and unique at the time - no such sound existed in 1955 (or at any point before 1972), and the brief snippets of the song would have certainly stuck out to him. At the dance "Calvin" had played the exact same song Chuck Berry would play on national television 3 years later, doing the same duckwalk move "Calvin" incorporated into his guitar performance at the dance (in addition to other flashy moves which were used by other musicians of the following decades, including kicking the amplifier , playing his guitar behind his back, etc.). He also predicted, to a bewildered audience, that their kids would love the metal and rock riffs he played at the end of the performance, a prediction which rang true, as rock and metal rose to prominence in the decades following the 1950s.
- After the dance, "Calvin" says to Lorraine and George that, should they ever have a child that sets the living room rug on fire at 8 years old, they should go easy on him. In 1976, Marty does this exact thing at 8 years old. This should be an obvious indicator to George that Marty and "Calvin" are the same person.
- Several times, "Calvin" slips up and refers to George as "dad" - once whilst shouting "Hey, Dad! George! Hey! You on the bike!", again shortly after whilst saving him from getting hit by Sam Baines' car and when they are discussing the plan to make Lorraine go with George to the dance. This is one of, if not the most obvious sign(s) out of all previously mentioned.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future novelizations
- Back to the Future: The Story
- Super Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future: The Card Game (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)
- Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines 3
- Back to the Future: Continuum Conundrum
- 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-granduncle)
- Pee Wee McFly (paternal fifth-cousin-twice-removed)
- Seamus McFly (paternal great-grandfather)
- Maggie McFly (paternal great-grandmother)
- William McFly (paternal grandfather)
- Arthur McFly (father)
- Sylvia McFly (mother)
- Sam Baines (father-in-law)
- Stella Baines (mother-in-law)
- Milton Baines (brother-in-law)
- Sally Baines (sister-in-law)
- Toby Baines (brother-in-law)
- Joey Baines (brother-in-law)
- Ellen Baines (sister-in-law)
- Lorraine Baines McFly (wife)
- Dave McFly (son)
- Linda McFly (daughter)
- Marty McFly (son)
- Jennifer Parker (daughter-in-law)
- Marlene McFly (granddaughter)
- Marty McFly Jr. (grandson)
- Marta McFly (great-great-granddaughter)
Notes and references
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future novelization
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future Part II novelization
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen!
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown