Rerun of The Honeymooners in 1985.

Milton: "What do you mean you've seen this? It's brand new."
Marty: "Well, I saw it on a rerun..."
Milton: "What's a rerun?"
Marty: "You'll find out."
— Marty recognizes the "Man from Space" episode of The Honeymooners

A rerun was a re-airing of a television episode that had previously debuted at an earlier date or time.


Reruns were prevalent on networks and other stations in the 1980s, particularly of shows from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

On October 25, 1985, Marty McFly was eating dinner with his family as they watched a rerun of an episode of the black-and-white television sitcom The Honeymooners, titled "The Man from Space". When Marty ate dinner with his mother's family on November 5, 1955, the Baines family was watching the same episode, but it was being shown for the first time.

When Marty exclaimed that he had seen "The Man from Space" before, Lorraine's brother MIlton immediately asked how this could be, as the episode was brand new. Except for a few shows that were recorded on kinescope or film for showing in different time zones the same night, all television shows were performed and broadcast live. Marty sheepishly replied that he saw it when it was a rerun. Milton had never heard of the term, since although The Honeymooners was recorded on film using the Electronicam system at the same time as it was broadcast live, television stations had not yet started showing these recordings.

Behind the scenes

  • In several non-English dubs of the movie, such as in Italy, where Back to the Future is called Ritorno al futuro, the word 'rerun' doesn't exist — usually because the country concerned has not yet adopted the policy of re-airing episodes of television shows. Thus, in Ritorno al Futuro, Marty says to Milton that he saw the first-run "Man from Space" episode of The Honeymooners "on video" — i.e. a VHS videocassette.
  • Reruns are known as repeats in the United Kingdom.


See also