Temporal field capacitor
The Doc Who Never Was
Part of: Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines
Issue number(s): 2
Page count: 15
Writer: Bob Gale, John Barber
Penciller: Marcelo Ferreira
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Colorist: Diego Rodriguez
Editor: Tom Waltz
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Publication date: November 11, 2015 (English)
February 15, 2017 (Japan)
Timeline: 1890s
October 24, 1962
October 25, 1962
The Doc Who Never Was was the first of two stories printed within issue 2 of Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines printed by IDW Publishing in 2015.

In Japan, it was published by Takarajimasha, both in the Back to the Future: Untold Tales trade paperback and for a limited time as a webcomic that was viewable on Takarajimasha's website.

It told the story of how the Brown family mansion burned down, leaving only Doc's garage.

Publisher's Summary

GREAT SCOTT! The past present and future come crashing together as only BACK TO THE FUTURE can do it! Secrets between the McFly family and Doc Brown are revealed... and what happens to the inventions that don't quite work as planned? All thanks to the guiding hand of BTTF co-creator Bob Gale and co.!


In the 1890s, Marshall James Strickland and his deputy, along with Zeke and Jeb, respond to a report that Emmett Brown is causing trouble outside of town. Doc has hired a group of railroad workers to lay down fifty yards of track, seemingly without a train.

Marshall Strickland, by now well aware of Doc's eccentricity, tells Doc that he knows that it is for an experiment, but that it doesn't make any sense. Doc tells him that the future doesn't always make sense, as he takes his sons Jules and Verne aside to tell them a story about the future.

On October 24, 1962, Doc Brown was watching multiple television sets, which were relaying news about the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tension was high, and a lot of people thought the world would end that week. Doc had been working on inventing the flux capacitor ever since Marty McFly had been sent back to the future, and the past. Seven years had gone by, and Doc Brown was running out of patience, and money.

He is interrupted from his thoughts as Copernicus barked, letting him know that someone had come through the door. He is greeted by Colonel Lomax of the United States Army operating under the auspices of the Department of Defense, and Leslie Groves, who has now retired. The latter jokes that he is surprised that Emmett hasn't taken up needlepoint in his old age, referencing their first meeting.

Groves mentions that it is odd that someone would have more than one television set, and Emmett states that he had gotten the idea from an old friend, or rather a future friend. Groves then points to the television sets and tells Emmett that he wants to prevent that from ever happening.

He remembers Emmett's flights of fancy during the Manhattan Project and tells Emmett that if anyone could invent a time machine, he could. Lomax informs Emmett that the United States government is willing to pay a large sum of money if he could make time travel possible. Knowing that he had already sunk his personal fortune into trying to invent the flux capacitor, Doc Brown accepts the offer.

He leads them out to the other room, where he presents a prototype time machine, the temporal field capacitor. He shows the men two stopwatches set to the same time, and lights two candles. He sets one candle and stopwatch in the device, and places the other on the tray outside. He tells them that the temporal field capacitor can only send objects through time during the existence of the device.

Doc turns on the device, which becomes very hot, a side effect that Doc has not yet managed to overcome. Doc opens the device, and the candle is gone. Lomax mockingly states that Doc had invented a way to disintegrate candles. Grove tells him to be patient, and asks Emmett how much power it is using. Doc informs them that is in using a quarter of a jigowatt, which is less than he suspects he'll need for the full thing.

Doc then closes the device, which gets cold, and the candle has returned, having traveled 90 seconds into the future. Lomax is skeptical, as he says that the experiment could have been faked, and informs Emmett that even if he did believe him, the device isn't helpful as they want a way to travel into the past, not the future.

Emmett informs them that he tried to send an object into the past before, but even a few minutes causes a buildup of flux energy. He tells them that if he sent an object any further back than that, the arrival of the object would overheat the capacitor and start an electrical fire.

He tells them that with the right resources, he would be able to fix the problem in no time. The two men are interested, and Groves informs Emmett that he'll never have to worry about funding again.

That night, Doc is wondering if he made the right choice. He wonders if preventing a nuclear holocaust and being able to fund his work is worth giving his invention over to the government. He is then interrupted by a crash downstairs.

Marty McFly had come back from the future in the DeLorean time machine, wearing a radiation suit identical to the one he wore when he first arrived in 1955, and speaking in Russian.

Marty takes Doc and Copernicus to May 8, 1982. Time had run amok, with soldiers with guns fighting Roman soldiers, and nuclear bombs dropping from the sky. Doc theorized that the United States had invented time travel, so the Soviet Union followed suit, resulting in an arms race through time. He is still haunted about ushering in an arms race through his work on the Manhattan Project, and doesn't want to usher in another one.

He goes back to the DeLorean time machine, telling Marty that it's time to go back. However, Marty has disappeared, leaving only the jeans and vest that he wore when he first left 1955. Doc wakes up in bed on October 25, 1962 and decides that he'll do anything to keep his technology from falling in the hands of the government.

He remembers that he and Copernicus were asleep at his workbench on August 1, 1962, safe in his fireproof workshop out in Doc's garage. He writes himself a note and sets the temporal field capacitor for August 1. He decides that since he had invented the temporal field capacitor once, he can do it again. He won't get the government funding, but he had insured the mansion for a large sum of money. He then looks down at himself as he begins to fade from existence.

In the new timeline, on October 24, 1962, Groves and Lomax arrive at the Brown estate, seeing the charred remains of the mansion, and the fenced in garage. Goldie Wilson, who is running for the office of district representative, tells them that they are a few months late. He tells them that the owner of the house has been reclusive since it burned down, and tells them that most people think he did it himself for the insurance money.

Groves is disappointed that Emmett Brown turned out to be an insurance thief, and Lomax tells them to leave as he is not the type of man that they would want to hire. From inside the garage, Doc and Copernicus watch them leave, with Doc quite pleased that his plan had worked.

Back in the 1890s, Jules and Verne are confused about how Doc could remember what happened when the version of himself that witnessed the events had been erased from time. Clara Clayton, sitting on the time train, tells Emmett not to confuse them, as they can't yet grasp the intricacies of the space-time continuum. Doc jokes that he agrees as he barely understood it at their age, but then tells her that he feels that it's important to expose them to it an early age, so that they can be prepared for the future.



  • The Russian that Marty speaks in Doc's dream (мне нужна ваша помощь! это все из наших детей!) translates to 'Doc, I need your help! It's all of our kids!' This is a reference to the similar scenario at the end of Back to the Future, when Doc returns from the future and tells Marty and Jennifer "Something's got to be done about your kids!"
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