Martin Seamus McFly Sr. was a high school student at Hill Valley High School in 1985. He was friends with "The Doc" who unveiled his first working invention to him. Through a turn of events, Marty McFly became the world's second time traveler. The first human being to ever travel through time though.
Marty was born in 1968 in Hill Valley, California. He was the youngest of three children to George and Lorraine McFly. He had a brother Dave, sister Linda and girlfriend Jennifer Parker. His best friend was scientist Emmett Brown, whom Marty (and Jennifer) calls "Doc" and refers to as "The Doc". There is a slight impression that Marty was somewhat embarrassed by his family and did not spend much time at home, preferring to hang out with Doc, Jennifer or the guys in his musical band, The Pinheads.
Little is known about Marty's life prior to 1985, except for the fact that he set the living room rug on fire when he was 8.
It is pure speculation, but there is one theory that Doc Brown simply remembered Marty McFly from their first encounter (from Doc's perspective) in 1955, and so consciously met and befriended Marty sometime in the future, before 1985, as he already knew that he and Marty were destined to become good friends.
First trip to 1955
By 1985, Marty was 17 years old. On the night of October 26, 1985, at the request of Doc, Marty met him at the Twin Pines Mall parking lot where Doc demonstrated his new invention - a time machine built from a DeLorean. The demonstration was interrupted by the arrival of a group of angry Libyan terrorists. The Libyans had provided Doc with the plutonium to build a nuclear weapon for them, but Doc instead used it to provide the DeLorean with the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed for time travel.
Marty attempted to escape from the Libyans in the DeLorean, only to find himself transported back to November 5, 1955 after accidentally activating the time circuits, crashing into the barn of Old Man Peabody. Thinking he was a space alien, he came under fire once again but escaped in the DeLorean, running over one of the two pine trees that Peabody had been raising. Marty drives until he sees the undeveloped Lyon Estates where he lived in 1985. Thinking it was a dream, he hid the DeLorean and ventured into town, where he discovered the date on a newspaper. He went inside Lou's Cafe and encountered his father eating a bowl of cereal. In following George, he accidentally interfered with the first meeting between his future parents. Instead of George falling from the tree from which he was peeping on Lorraine and getting hit by Sam Baines' car, Marty saved him and was hit. Using the alias "Calvin Klein" (his teenage mother-to-be Lorraine saw the name printed on his underwear and assumed it was Marty's name), Marty met up with the 1955 version of Doc and enlisted his help. Marty's mission was to try to get his parents (Lorraine and George) to fall in love, or they would never marry and Marty would never have been born. This was no easy task, as Lorraine had a crush on him instead and George was too scared to ask her out.
On the night of November 12, 1955, Marty took Lorraine to the 'Enchantment Under The Sea' dance (or "a rhythmic ceremonial ritual", as Doc amusingly titled it). He and George agreed to a plan that would allow George to win Lorraine's heart by "saving" her from Marty's staged aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, Marty made an enemy of high school bully Biff Tannen, and Biff showed up at the dance looking for revenge. Marty was taken away by Biff's goons and locked in the trunk of Marvin Berry's car. The musicians chased them off and attempted to pry open the trunk which had the keys locked inside. When George came to "rescue" Lorraine, he found that instead of having to pretend to save her from Marty, he now had to really save her from Biff. Biff began to twist his arm attempting to break it, but was foiled by Lorraine, whom he pushed to the ground. In anger, George punched Biff in the face, standing up to a bully for the first time in his life, and George and Lorraine fell in love.
Marty joined the dance band onstage to ensure his future existence after Marvin Berry cut his hand open It was almost lost, however, when Mark Dixon jumped in between George and Lorraine, with Marty forgetting how to play the guitar and eventually fading away much like his brother and sister in the photo. George, returns and pushes Dixon away restoring everything between him and Lorraine and finally kiss.
His existence assured, Marty finished the song, and followed up with "Johnny B. Goode" including his own Chuck Berry/Jimi Hendrix/Pete Townshend/Eddie Van Halen-like guitar solo, which, in 1955, left the audience speechless. And also, given the year he plays the song, it is mistaken for his own work (although the guitarist of the onstage band, named "Marvin Berry", phones his cousin, Chuck Berry (the real-life artist who released "Johnny B. Goode" in 1958), who at the time is said to be looking for a "new sound". Marvin held the phone out for Chuck to hear his future hit being performed).
Rushing to get back to downtown, the storm moved in. Marty tried to warn Doc about the night the terrorists come to kill him but Doc refuses to listen and tore up the letter given to him. The lightning struck and knocked down a tree which severed the connection between the clock tower and the poles that would channel the lightning into the flux capacitor. While Doc fixed the line, Marty jumped in the DeLorean and headed to the starting line. He set the arrival time for ten minutes earlier to save Doc. When the alarm went off signaling him to hit the gas, the car died. Marty managed to get the DeLorean back running and took off. In a race to reach the poles, Doc connected the line at exactly 10:04pm and Marty attached to the line, sending him back to 1985.
Arriving back in 1985, Marty began to celebrate his arrival, but the DeLorean died on him again. The Libyans passed him on their way to Twin Pines Mall (now Lone Pine Mall). Doc was shot just the same, but when his other self traveled to 1955, he found that Doc was wearing a bulletproof vest. Doc had read the note all along and figured "what the hell".
That next morning, Marty discovered that his family's lives had turned out very differently because George learned to assert himself by standing up to Biff. They were more confident, richer, and Marty even had his own truck, the Toyota that he had been eyeing previously.
Into the future
Just as Marty and Doc headed to 2015 to save Marty's future son Marty Jr., from going to prison. Marty pretended to be Marty Jr. in order to stand up to Griff Tannen, grandson of Biff. Marty's "chicken" problem became apparent - whenever someone called him a chicken, he became offended and felt he had to prove he was not afraid. Marty succeeded in preventing his son from going to prison, and acquired a hoverboard. Afterward Marty entered the Blast from the Past and purchased the Grays Sports Almanac, with the intent to use it and the time machine for financial gain. Doc discovered the almanac and disposed of it.
While in the future, his girlfriend Jennifer Parker discovered that in 1985, the day after he arrived back from 1955, Marty was involved in a car accident after auto racing a classmate, Douglas J. Needles, on a "chicken" dare. Marty broke his hand and was sued by the driver of the Rolls-Royce he crashed into. He had to give up a career in music and spent many years feeling sorry for himself. He married Jennifer in the 1990s in the Chapel O' Love, and his parents were the only witnesses. The couple had two kids - daughter Marlene, and son Martin Jr. (born 1998). By 2015, Marty and Jennifer were living in Hilldale, a planned community established in 1985 which had deteriorated over the last 30 years in similar fashion as Lyon Estates had between 1955 and 1985. They were having marriage difficulties, and Marty was stuck in a dead end job at Fujitsu Enterprises , where his supervisor was his former classmate Needles.
The 1985 version of Marty, visiting 2015, does not find out any of this, but rather the 1985 Jennifer. This future version of Marty fell victim to another "chicken" dare from Needles, who convinced Marty to go along with some shady in-company deal. However, the supervisor above Needles, Ito T. Fujitsu had been listening in on the pair making the deal by video-phone, and fired Marty for co-operating with Needles (it is not clear what Needles' fate as a result of this incident was). The 1985 Jennifer did not witness all of this exchange, but did acquire a copy of a printout sheet with the words "YOU'RE FIRED!' on it, as Fujitsu apparently commanded every printing medium in the 2015 McFlys' home to print out the phrase.
1985A and back to 1955
Doc and Marty headed back to 1985, only to find that an elderly Biff Tannen, in 2015, had stolen the time machine and gone back to 1955 with the sports almanac, which he had given to his younger self. As a result, Biff knew the results to all future sports events for the rest of the century. Using this knowledge, Biff was able to bet on the winner every time, becoming an extremely powerful multi-millionaire. Subsequently, Hill Valley became a corrupt, crime-ridden city ruled over by Biff, where he owned the police and had influence towards national politicians. Additionally, Marty learned that his father was dead, Biff was now his stepfather, and that he had "been attending" a boarding school in Switzerland. Marty had apparently attended, and been thrown out of, other boarding schools in the past.
After confronting Biff about the almanac, Biff revealed how he obtained it, as well as admitting to murdering Marty's father while attempting to shoot Marty with a handgun. Marty now had to steal back the almanac in 1955, so he and Doc quickly headed back to put history back on track, whilst avoiding their younger selves from the first trip. They eventually succeeded (saving Marty's father and returning Hill Valley back to normal), but the lightning storm that struck the clock tower arrived, and struck the DeLorean in mid-air while Doc was inside alone, scrambling the time circuits and sending Doc to the year 1885. At that very moment, a letter from Doc in 1885, which had been in Western Union's possession for 70 years, 2 months, and 12 days, arrived for Marty, explaining everything that had just transpired. Determined to rescue his friend, Marty rushed off to find the 1955 Doc, who was just sending the other Marty back to 1985.
The wild, wild West
Marty found the 1955 Doc Brown celebrating his success in sending his counterpart back to 1985 the first time, but shocked him into fainting. He drove Doc back to his residence where Doc began to record the experiment but found Marty there again.
Marty showed Doc the message his counterpart sent him, directing them to the Delgado Mine where the DeLorean buried. After the DeLorean is fixed, Marty traveled back to September 2, 1885 to find Doc and bring him home. Marty, now using the name "Clint Eastwood", found Doc, but the time machine once again needed repairing after being caught in an Indian attack. When Doc started romancing Clara Clayton, Marty became weary of his friend's companion and tried distracting Doc from Clara so he could fix the time machine and they could go home.
Once again, he encountered a Tannen, this time it was Biff's great grandfather Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen. Buford called Marty "yellow" and Marty ended up facing Buford in a duel. His great great grandfather Seamus alongside wife Maggie told Marty the story of his brother, also named Martin McFly, who was stabbed in Virginia City whilst trying to prove he was not a coward. Marty managed to overcome his complex and told Buford that he did not care what anyone thought about him. But Buford didn't give up easily without a fight. Holding Doc hostage, Marty was forced to use a Clint Eastwood trick from A Fistful of Dollars and defeated Buford in combat.
Marty managed to get back to the future and found out that everything is back to the way it was after the first trip back from 1955. Upon returning, the time machine was destroyed by an oncoming train, just as Marty leaped from the vehicle. He picked up Jennifer and went go out in his new truck. At an intersection, they met Needles who challenged them to a race. It isn't clear if Jennifer realized that this was the car accident that ruined Marty's life but she did encourage him to say "no". Marty appeared to be ready to race Needles but, when the light turned green he shifted into reverse, speeding backwards as Needles took off. Marty tells Jennifer that he had no intention of racing "that asshole." Needles, now down the road, narrowly avoided hitting a Rolls-Royce, and the car accident was avoided. Marty apparently learned his lesson and Jennifer's future changed to a supposedly better but unknown one. Marty and Jennifer returned to the scene of the DeLorean's wreckage, believing that Doc would be lost in time forever. Suddenly, Doc and Clara show up in a new time machine fashioned from a locomotive. Doc explained to Marty and Jennifer that nobody's future is written yet and that they should make the best of it.
Marty and Jennifer ended up at Hill Valley College after graduating from the high school. Marty spent a lot of time visiting the Brown house where Doc, Clara and their sons lived. He accompanied the family on many of their time travel adventures.
In 2091, Marty's music became famous to Elvis-like proportions, as there are Marty impersonators mimicking his act on stage. However, a quote from his great-granddaughter Marta ("If only my great-grandfather was still alive to see that his music continues on...") suggests that the fame surrounding his music may not materialize until some point after his death. The canonicity of the animated series as an extension of the films' storyline is unclear.
- In the Back to the Future novelization, Marty is trapped in detention with Mr. Strickland and devises a plan to escape to catch his band's audition. After Strickland destroys his Sony Walkman in a vise, he grabs a lens from a projector. Marty applies some gum to the back of a matchbook and shoots it up to a smoke alarm on the ceiling. He then focuses sunlight at the matchbook but is faced to hurry before Strickland closes all the blinds. Marty succeeds in igniting the matchbook and setting off the fire alarm and sprinkler system, escaping out the door to audition.
Personality & traits
Marty was an easy going adolescent most of the time. He was not the best student academically but his grades were fairly good, although he did have a tendency to be late for school. He played lead guitar with The Pinheads and likes listening to Huey Lewis and the News and Eddie Van Halen. He is also a talented skateboarder.
When faced with danger, Marty was always brave and could be very resourceful and clever. His only major character flaw was his persistent desire to show others that he wasn't a coward, which sometimes caused him to take unnecessary risks. He couldn't abide to be called 'chicken', a trait he shares with James Dean's character Jim Stark from Rebel Without a Cause (coincidentally made in 1955). However, Marty realized that he doesn't need to constantly prove his bravery and avoids one of the greatest tragedies in his life, a collision with a Rolls-Royce limo that would have ruined his ability to play the guitar.
Behind the scenes
- Although Marty McFly is 17 years old as of October 25, 1985, his birthdate is not referred to in the film series. Novelty items, such as a California driver's license in Marty's name, often include a birthdate of "06-09-68" and an address "9303 Lyon Drive", neither of which is mentioned elsewhere. There are different versions of the "license" that have been manufactured, as can be seen on sites such as eBay. June 9 is a logical choice for a novelty license, since the photo is of actor Michael J. Fox, who was born on June 9, 1961.
- If Marty's birthday has ever been thought of at all, it was when Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis wrote an early draft for a sequel to Part I. In that script, Marty mentioned that his birthdate was June 20, 1968. The plot point became important when Marty traveled to September 20, 1967, nine months before his birthdate, and again put his existence in danger. As with Marty's middle name (which was "Hopkins", rather than "Seamus", in the draft script), the idea was dropped before filming.
- Eric Stoltz was originally cast to play the role of Marty McFly. Fox was the first choice of Zemeckis and Gale, but was committed to NBC's hit television show, Family Ties. When the show's producer, Gary David Goldberg, was approached in 1984, he was not willing to let Fox appear in a movie while also shooting Family Ties. After Zemeckis and Gale had filmed a large portion of the scenes with Stoltz, and were not happy with the results, they approached Goldberg again. Goldberg agreed to let Fox work on both the show and the film at the same time, with the condition that the show had to come first.
- How exactly Marty and Doc met has never been explained, although a draft script for the first film states that a couple of years ago Doc turned up at Marty's garage one day and offered him $50 a week, plus free beer and use of his record collection, to clean his garage. This explanation is not accepted by most fans, however, as it contradicts the characterizations of Marty and Doc we see in the finished film. Co-writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale say they once considered expanding on their relationship, but decided against it, reasoning that children and adolescents are often attracted to eccentric or mysterious neighbors.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future novelization
- 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 Animated Series
- "Forward to the Past"
- "Roman Holiday"
- "Time Waits for No Frog"
- "Batter Up"
- "Solar Sailors" (Mentioned only)
- "Dickens of a Christmas"
- "Clara's Folks"
- "Mac the Black"
- "Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!"
- "A Friend In Deed"
- "Marty McFly PFC"
- "Bravelord and the Demon Monstrux"
- "The Money Tree"
- "A Verne by Any Other Name"
- "My Pop's an Alien"
- "Super Doc"
- "St. Louis Blues"
- "Verne Hatches an Egg"
| 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