- "Four people got out of the car, three guys and a girl, and one of them walked directly into the Café 80s. He was a big guy. Huge. He wore black pants and a wicked-looking jacket over a black chain mail shirt. Each of his boots was adorned with a sharp, metallic rhinoceros horn. A cap full of sharp metal spikes was strapped to his head."
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 32)
- "Hey, Gramps, I told you two coats of wax on my car, not just one! GRAMPS! What the hell am I paying you for?!"
- —Griff at Biff
- "He [Griff] turned and looked at Marty, with a gaze that held no kindness, no humor, no mercy — only contempt that something as low as a McFly should sully the face of the earth."
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 34)
Like most of the Tannen family throughout its existence, Griff was a bully, and bullied people to get what he wanted. Unlike Biff though, Griff was a lot more violent and unpredictable, and seemed to have a bit more of a comedic and over the top personality, in contrast to Biff's intimidating and mean-spirited personality. Griff was usually accompanied by his gang of three, Rafe "Data" Unger, Leslie "Spike" O'Malley and Chester "Whitey" Nogura, and was the first Tannen to allow a female into his gang. Not many people stood up to Griff, and he was surprised when Marty McFly, pretending to be his son Marty Jr, did so.
Griff had a car, a heavily modified, hover-converted orange and black 1976 BMW 633CSi convertible, which he had his grandfather wax for him (two coats, naturally), and appeared to be an expert hoverboarder, having in his possession a "Pit Bull" hoverboard ("Pitboard") which was jet-powered.
According to an offhand comment by Dr. Emmett Brown, and further evidenced by the mechanical sounds heard every time Griff moved, Griff had bionic implants. These implants were shown to give him enhanced strength, make him taller on command, and automatically block a punch thrown at him despite Griff not seeing it coming. A newspaper from 2015 implied these implants were illegal, although a proposed statute or constitutional amendment known as Proposition 237 was taking place in Hill Valley to legalize them. The circumstances of his acquiring the implants remain unknown.
Griff was born in 1996 in Hill Valley, California and is the grandson of Biff Tannen. Since the identity or fate of his parents are unknown, it is not clear whether Griff's last name is actually Tannen or not. Although, if the article in the newspaper prop is accepted as canon — then Griff would, in fact, be a Tannen.
At some point he met Marty Jr. and started bullying him.
On the afternoon of October 21, 2015, Griff and his gang met Marty Jr. at the Cafe 80's (formerly Lou's Cafe in 1955 and Lou's Aerobic Fitness Center in 1985). They "persuaded" Marty Jr. to join them in the early hours of the following morning to rob the Hill Valley Payroll Substation. Marty Jr. reluctantly agreed, but accidentally set off the alarm. Marty Jr. was caught and sentenced by a data-court to 15 years, whilst Griff and his gang managed to distance themselves by saying " McFly's too low-res for us to associate with him".
Luckily for Marty Jr., Doc Brown arrived from 1985 in his DeLorean time machine and with the help of Marty from 1985, managed to avoid this. Marty from 1985 (aged 17) managed to pose as his future son and said "no" to Griff. Griff, surprised and angered at this, got his gang to chase Marty around the Courthouse Square after Marty exited the Cafe 80's and "borrowed" a hoverboard. Griff smashed his BMW's taillight after trying to hit Marty with a baseball bat, swinging furiously as he hovered past.
- "I was FRAMED!"
- —Griff during apprehension.
Marty ended up above the pond in front of the Hill Valley Courthouse Mall, but he was unable to propel his board while floating above the water. Griff got out his Pit Bull, which allowed his gang to be pulled behind him, and they tried to get Marty. Marty jumped into the water at the last minute, causing Griff to bump on a rock and hurl him and his gang into the courthouse. He was captured and was arrested in the end after crashing into the Hill Valley Courthouse. Griff and his gang went to jail (sentenced presumably for life, though this is unlikely, since Griff and his gang committed vandalism; thus Griff could have been jailed at a later date for a more serious crime, possibly murder) and thus Marty Jr. never went with him on that robbery.
In 2035, Griff had been given a sage implant and a level one personality rewiring after he was released from prison. As he was deemed rehabilitated, he became an officer of the Hill Valley Police Department. However, the new personality implant didn't work, and Griff retained his violent tendencies. He was known to disobey orders, to use excessive force, and to use equipment that he was not authorized to use, such as a flame thrower. He was also reprimanded in the past for taking bribes.
The police were after Doc as the biological scan of Doc's age did not match that of the false identity he set up in 2015. Doc had intended to travel back to 2015, to pick up the parts he needed, at a time that his false identity would still be valid. However, Griff shot an electrical surge at Doc as he was about to head back to 1893 in the steam time car. This surge was meant to disable his bionic implants, but since Doc didn't have any, he suffered amnesia due to the jolt.
Behind the scenes
- The name Griff may be derived from "griffe", which is the French word for "claw".
- Although Griff is seen as an old man in 2091 in the animated episode Solar Sailors, he appears to be shown in the opening sequence in the series, chasing Marty on a hoverboard on May 19, 2015. This would have happened five months before his fateful hoverboard rampage (or after his release from jail, indicating a short sentence, for vandalism).
- Since the animated series establishes a "Biff Tannen, Jr.," it is possible that Griff could in turn be Biff Jr.'s son, though unlikely; Griff was born in 1996, while Biff Jr. is established as being Verne's age (9) in 1992. The canonicity of the animated series as an extension of the films' storyline is unclear, but does not speak to Griff's parentage. Sadly, a boy in his mid teens fathering a child is well within the realm of possibility, as Tannen ethics are generally pretty shoddy.
- Another possibility is that Griff is actually the son of Biff's daughter Tiffany. While Tiffany is implied to still be a minor as of 1986, no real declaration of her age is given. So she could be Marty's age in 1986. She could have had Griff out of wedlock or that Griff's father was somehow removed from the picture via death or divorce, which could explain how he would go by his mother's maiden name. The canonicity of the video game as an extension of the films' storyline is also unclear.
- In an interview where Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale answered "Frequently Asked Questions", they noted that "Griff could be the son of Biff's daughter." The animated series showed Biff Jr., but didn't offer clues as to other Tannen children or to the mother of any of Biff's offspring. In the episode that featured an elderly Griff in 2091, Solar Sailors, the question was not answered. It should be noted that, in the first episode to feature Biff Jr., Biff does call out "kids" in the plural — which would allow for the existence of Tiffany, even though only Biff Jr. was shown.
- Griff is mentioned in Back to the Future: The Game Episode 1: It's About Time while Doc in 1931 talks to Marty about the 1955 Lightning strike that hit the Hill Valley Courthouse's clock tower while sending the DeLorean time machine in to the future making a Temporal duplicate of it and preventing him from messing up the time stream.
- Griff was shown to be only slightly smarter than his grandfather, which was shown by his not falling for the "What the hell is that?" ploy Marty used repeatedly. However, Griff's bionic implants could be the only reason that he didn't "fall for it".
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future Part II novelization
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)
- Back to the Future: The Pinball
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- Super Back to the Future Part II
- LEGO Dimensions
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time (Mentioned only)
| 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