An homage, in film, is an indirect reference made to honor another work. Within the Back to the Future trilogy, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis included scenes that were an homage to another film.

See List of references to Back to the Future for movies and television shows that depicted an homage to Back to the Future.

Homage in Back to the Future

  • The opening scene of clocks in Dr. Emmett Brown's laboratory. In commentary to the DVD, Gale said "I should mention that the clocks are either an homage, or a rip-off, of the opening of the 1960 movie adaptation of H.G. Wells's novel The Time Machine, which starts with a whole bunch of clocks as well." The red, green and yellow lights of the time display were also an homage to the 1960 film.
  • The CRM-114 amplifier has the same number as the B-52 from Dr. Strangelove (1962).
  • As Marty skateboards through the square on his way to school, the Statler Toyota dealership has a sign reading "Used Cars". This is a nod to the1980 film Used Cars, which was directed by Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis also wrote Used Cars with Bob Gale, who produced the film.
  • According to Gale, the scene of Einstein being placed behind the steering wheel of the DeLorean at the mall was "an homage to Disney's The Shaggy Dog".
  • Gale said that "November 5 happens to be my father's birthday. My father, I think, believes to this day that this is a great homage to him. It was just the right day with the right day of the week to make the thing work with the script."
  • Other scenes in Back to the Future that seem to be an homage to another film, or to a particular person, include:
    • Sam Baines yelling "Stella!!!" in a fashion similar to Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire.
    • Marty McFly playing the guitar and imitating the styles of Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Angus Young (of AC/DC), Eddie Van Halen, and other artists. Eddie van Halen himself made a contribution to the film by composing the guitar music specifically on request of Robert Zemeckis for the "Darth Vader" scene.


Homage in Back to the Future Part II

  • Gale speculates, the poster advertising "Surf Vietnam" was a set decorator's homage to Apocalypse Now.
  • Marty McFly Jr.'s line of "Hey! I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!" was spoken by Ratso Rizzo (played by Dustin Hoffman) in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.
  • The nightmarish vision of the alternative Hill Valley of 1985A is reminiscent of "Pottersville", the alternate Bedford Falls in It's A Wonderful Life.
  • Biff's line "I own the police!" was from the 1974 film Chinatown.


Homage in Back to the Future Part III

  • Gale and Zemeckis acknowledged the influence of Westerns directed by John Ford.
  • As Marty revs the DeLorean time machine at the Pohatchee Drive-In Theatre, he says "Hi-yo Silver", a line from the Western radio and television series The Lone Ranger, where the titular character says this to his horse Silver.
  • Tom Wilson's portrayal of Buford Tannen was drawn from Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  • Doc's dance with Clara Clayton was described by Gale as a nod to the Ford film My Darling Clementine.
"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me, Tannen? Well, I'm the only one here. Go ahead, make my day."
—Marty quotes Taxi Driver and Harry Callahan from Sudden Impact while drawing his gun in front of a mirror.
  • When Marty tries his gun in front of the mirror, he says "You talkin' to me?" and then "Well, I'm the only one here.". In the 1976 film Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle (played by Robert de Niro) says this while drawing his gun in front of a mirror. Marty then says "Go ahead, make my day", a line which was spoken by Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood) in the 1983 film Sudden Impact.
  • During his gunfight with Buford Tannen, Marty uses a stove door as a makeshift bulletproof vest by hiding it under his poncho. This pays homage to the Clint Eastwood film A Fistful of Dollars, where Eastwood's character The Man With No Name uses a steel plate as a makeshift bulletproof vest during a gunfight. Marty's outfit during the gunfight is also similar to the one worn by The Man With No Name.
  • The design of the Time Train was inspired by the submarine Nautillus from the 1954 adaptation of 20,000 Leauges Under the Sea.


Homage in Back to the Future: The Animated Series

Many of the episodes of the Animated Series included a scene or a plot twist that harked back to the film trilogy

  • "Forward to the Past" evokes Part II, when the timeline is altered and has to be repaired.
  • "Witchcraft" and "Roman Holiday" have a Tannen falling into manure, an homage to all three films.
  • "Roman Holiday" brings back Marty's weakness of having to prove that he isn't "chicken".
  • "Go Fly a Kite" and "Gone Fishin'" have someone hanging from the hands of a clock, as in Part I.
  • "Dickens of a Christmas" and "My Pop's an Alien" revive Marty's stunt of waking up a sleeping person to frighten them into doing something, which Marty did as an alien in Part I'; thus, Marty pretends to be the a Dickensian Christmas ghost to scare Ebiffnezer Tannen, and Marty and the boys don beekeeper outfits to scare Biff in 1967.
  • Marty and the Pinheads, seen in Part I, perform music in Retired" and the effort is interrupted.

Homage in Back to the Future: the Game

  • From Episode 1 to Episode 5, one of Marty's chosen alias' in 1931 is Harry Callahan from the film Dirty Harry (Who was played by Clint Eastwood).
  • In Episode 3, George mentions that Dave left Hill Valley to work at a big city newspaper. Marc McClure, the actor who played Dave portrayed Jimmy Olsen (who worked for the Daily Planet newspaper) in all 4 installments of the Superman films (1978-1987) and Supergirl.
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