- " "Save the clock tower!" an old man [Terry] in mechanic's overalls yelled as he walked back and forth in front of the courthouse. "Save the clock tower!" / What? They wanted to tear down the clock tower again? Marty figured that when the rest of the building had been turned into a shopping mall, that old, stopped clock had to have real historical value. "
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 49)
- "Yeah, it's something, huh? Who would've thought? 100 to 1 shot! I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season, and put some money on the Cubs."
- —Terry to Marty
- "A guy in mechanic's overalls got out of the cab of the truck and walked around to disconnect Biff's car from the tow. The circular name patch over his pocket said his name was Terry. / Marty stared at him: the mechanic looked familiar somehow. And then he remembered — this was the old guy who had asked him for a donation to save the clock tower in the future! Of course, he was sixty years younger here in 1955, but yes, it was the same man. Marty remembered that the guy had connected the clock tower lightning storm with repairing Biff's car, and now here it was, happening right in front of him."
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 144)
Terry was an auto mechanic in 1955. He worked at the Western Auto store in downtown Hill Valley and fixed Biff Tannen's Ford Super De Luxe Convertible after Biff's collision with the manure truck. Terry had been unable to start the car while working on it and wondered if the vehicle was fitted with some kind of kill-switch, but Biff explained that no-one could start his car except him. When Terry mentioned that the bill was $302.57, Biff got angry and refused to pay it.
Sixty years later, Terry was seen in 2015 with a portable thumb unit, representing the Hill Valley Preservation Society and raising money to preserve the clock tower as a historic landmark. Like the Clock Tower Lady of 1985, Terry approached Marty McFly for a donation. Marty, who had traveled there from 1985, was surprised to learn of the outcome of the World Series. When Terry mentioned that he wished that he could go back to the beginning of the season to bet on the Chicago Cubs, he inadvertently gave Marty the idea to purchase Grays Sports Almanac.
In the alternate timeline in which the Biff of 1955 received the sports almanac from his older self, Terry was part of the Hill Valley Civic Committee. In 1981, the committee intended to expose Biff as a criminal, and planned to break into his personal safe to look for documents that might link him to illegal activity. Terry, having had his customers driven away by Biff, volunteered to be the one to crack open the safe using his skills as a mechanic.
On March 6, Terry entered Tannen Manor through a door Dave McFly had left unlocked, and began to work on the safe door. However, before he could open the safe, Biff Tannen himself interrupted him. The plan had assumed that Biff would be having dinner with his adopted family elsewhere, but Biff had in fact remained behind.
Terry remained loyal, refusing to tell Biff who had let him into the house. Biff simply ordered a nearby police officer (Biff owned the Hill Valley Police Department in this timeline) to beat Terry to death instead, as he had already guessed that Dave McFly was the traitor.
A few days later, Terry's funeral was held. It was closed casket, which implied that Terry's corpse was too mutilated to be viewed.
Behind the scenes
- Terry was portrayed by Charles Fleischer, who provided the voice of the toon Roger Rabbit in another Robert Zemeckis film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Fleischer, born August 27, 1950, was 37 when his 1955 scenes were filmed, and depicted his character at about 20 and 80 years old.
- A deleted scene, filmed for Part II, showed Terry arguing with Biff about his unpaid car repair bill, during which Terry remembered the exact date of the deed, November 12, 1955. Since he had reminded Biff where he was almost sixty years ago, Biff subsequently chose that date to visit himself in the past.
- The injustice of the unpaid repair bill was righted, to some extent, when Marty and Doc returned to 1955 to "repair" the timeline. Biff, who had cheated Terry earlier that day, crashed into a manure truck again that night.
- The Courthouse Mall has, by 2015, adopted the stopped clock and a lightning bolt as its logo, so one might wonder what Terry is raising money for. Nevertheless, when he asks Marty to "thumb a hundred bucks" for the tower, inflation has made $100 worth little more than the quarter that Marty gave in 1985. Based on the $50.00 bill that Doc gave Marty to buy a Pepsi, the $100.00 bill would only barely cover soft drinks for two.
- In the novelization (see first Quote above), Terry is described as wearing mechanic's overalls in 2015 rather than the white short-sleeved shirt and bright orange/navy blue multiple ties he wears on-screen.
- Terry's surname was never given on-screen, in the novelization or in Back to the Future: Biff to the Future.
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future (IDW Publishing)