Red the Bum
Biographical information
Date of birth1920s
Age (1931)10s
Age (1955)30s
Age (1985)60s
Age (2015)90s
Physical description
Hair colorBrown
Eye colorBrown
Behind-the-scenes information
Played byGeorge Buck Flower
"Crazy drunk driver..."

Red was a street bum who resided in downtown Hill Valley in 1985, and in Part I he was known to spend the night listening to the radio while lying on a bus stop bench with an advertisement for California raisins on it; in Part II he could also be seen working on his car outside of Biff's Pleasure Palace.


On October 26, 1985, after Marty McFly drove back to his present day in the DeLorean time machine and crashed into the Assembly of Christ, Red woke up, saw this and commented on him being a "crazy drunk driver". Marty apparently knew him, as he addressed him by name when he saw him.

In the alternate reality where Biff Tannen traveled from 2015 to 1955 to make his younger self rich, Red was still a bum. After Marty accidentally bumped into Red who was bending down under the hood of his car and tinkering with the engine, Red commented on Marty's being a "crazy drunk pedestrian."

Red handed newspaper

The Hill Valley Telegraph reported on Red's arrest in 1973A.

In 1973, Biff used the fact that Red was a bum to his advantage. He had one of the members of the Hill Valley Police Department, which he owned in this ABC timeline, plant George McFly's wallet on Red. This made it look like Red had killed George in the alley, rather than Biff.

By 1985, Red was again on a bench as a street bum. In this alternate reality, Marty bumped into him outside a nightclub (named Sin) and Red, not recognizing him, yelled "Watch where you're goin', crazy drunk pedestrian!!"

By 1986, in the timeline where Dr. Emmett Brown built a second DeLorean time machine, Red stayed in the Hill Valley Public Library during business hours.

Behind the scenes[]

  • It is disputed whether this is former mayor Red Thomas, but has been generally accepted that he is not. According to Bob Gale's commentary on the Back to the Future DVD set, the name of the bum was ad-libbed by Michael J. Fox. Gale also commented that the photo of the mayor in 1955 on the side of the campaign van was that of set decorator Hal Gausman, whereas the bum was played by George Buck Flower. Also, the re-election poster of Red Thomas shows him to be nearly bald and in his early 60s, considerably older — even way back in 1955 — than the in-his-late-40's bushy-haired wino was in 1985. So if that bleary-eyed character actually had been the former mayor who had begun drinking himself into homelessness, he would have been about 90 (if he hadn't actually died long before then from cirrhosis of the liver) by the time Marty knew him. Perhaps it could be surmised that this was "Red Jr." — i.e., the former mayor's son — and that his father had been such a dull-minded loser himself (you remember how Goldie Wilson talked about "cleaning up this town", and so maybe Mr. Red Thomas Sr. wasn't doing either of his "jobs" — i.e. serving as mayor and being a father to his son — very well) that he'd not been able to properly guide his children to "live clean", and so this was the tragic result of his failures, or at least for this child.