The Back to the Future franchise is one of the most iconic and influential film series of all time, and has gone on to inspire a huge part of pop culture ever since the first movies’ debut in 1985. Although the stories of Marty McFly and Doc. Brown seemingly finished in 1990’s Back to the Future Part III, their adventures have continued across a number of mediums ranging from video games, theme park rides, animated shows, talk show sketches and comic books. Here is our list of the biggest and best, that aren’t in the movies.
Back to the Future – The Animated Series:
Following a common trend of following up a hit movie with an animated show, the first big extension of the movies came in the form of the 1991 animated series simply titled ‘Back to the Future’ (also known as Back to the Future: The Animated Series). Co-creator Bob Gale explained that although the show directly follows the events of the movies, and is a clear continuation of the storylines set up there, it (like the comics) takes place in a separate ‘what if?’ universe that runs parallel to the movies.
The show is set in 1991 (six years after the third movie), and mainly focusses on Marty’s continued adventures with the now extended Brown family, consisting of Doc Brown, Clara, and their sons Jules and Verne )and of course Einstein the dog). The family now have two time traveling vehicles at their disposal, with the time train from the third movie and a newly rebuilt DeLorean that features a Knight Rider style talking interface.
The show takes Marty and the Browns on a number of adventures that go much further back in time than we’ve seen, and out of the immediate Hill Valley area. Although the Browns are the most prominent family of the series (rather than the McFly’s in the movies), plenty of McFly’s and Tannen’s show up throughout the show. Both Thomas F. Wilson (Biff) and Mary Steenburgen (Clara) returned to their roles for the show, with Christopher Lloyd taking part in some of the live action experiment segments.
The show (which is included in the Back to the Future: The Complete Adventures box set) proves the perfect continuation of the franchise and allows Marty and Doc to go to a number of places (and times) that they couldn’t in the movies.
Back to the Future – The Ride:
Opening in in 1991 (a year after the release of Part III) the Universal Studios theme park ride plays out as a continuation to the main Back to the Future storyline, and sees guests chase Biff throughout history in their own DeLorean.
The storyline for the ride follows Doc Brown and his Institute of Future Technology (I.F.T), where a number of scientists are experimenting with time travel. Whilst scientists are in 1955, the young Biff sees them and stows away, ending up at the I.F.T. Once there he locks Doc in his lab, and steals a DeLorean, the park guests (‘volunteers’) then board the new DeLorean to chase him down. The ride takes guests throughout history chasing Biff down, eventually getting him back to the I.F.T where he is apprehended.
The ride was closed down and switched to the Simpsons ride in 2007 (in both Universal Hollywood and Orlando), but remained in Universal Japan until 2016. Footage from the ride, including the videos that played whilst guest were waiting in line, and the actual videos you’d see whilst on the ride, have been included in a number of box sets. A non-canon explanation of how the ride was then switched into the Simpsons ride, sees the history of Krusty the Clown’s new building as the former I.F.T that he bought from Doc.
The Comic Books:
In 1992 Harvey Comics published a seven issue series that sought to continue the Animated Series’ adventures, but it was cancelled after a relatively short run. Since then a number of comics have cropped up adapting the movies, games and showing all new adventures, namely IDW’s most recent series.
In 2015 (celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the first movie, and of course the year Doc and Marty travel to in the second) IDW released a Bob Gale written mini series title Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines, focussing on some unused story ideas from the movies and showing how Marty and Doc originally met. With the series becoming a hit, IDW turned it into a regular monthly series that saw a number of adventures including Marty struggling to deal with his now boring regular life, Doc getting stuck in a number of different time periods (and even prison), and Marty facing an identity crisis when he realises the memories of his childhood don’t match up with his current timeline.
The comics books continue the legacy of Back to the Future perfectly, giving some very in depth backstory to a huge number of characters (including Needles) and even manage to explain a few lingering plot holes from the movies, totalling to some great comics and a very smart, and fun continuation of the franchise.
Back to the Future The Game:
Originally released in 2011, and later re released in 2015 to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Back to the Future, Back to the Future The Game was produced by the original movies’ co-cretor Bob Gale, and combines Telltale’s signature episodic storytelling with a number of new adventures.
Picking up the six months after the third movie, the game shows us a series of time travelling adventures in which Marty once again has to go back in time to save Doc. The first episode, “It’s About Time”, shows an empty DeLorean appear in 1985 and after a little digging around, Marty ends up travelling back to 1931 to rescue an imprisoned Doc Brown.
Marty is forced into getting help from an even younger Doc than we’ve already seen in the movies, but has to be careful to avoid his own grandparents and ‘Kid Tannen’ Biff’s godfather-eqsue father. After the first episode, the following stories (“Get Tannen”, “Citizen Brown”, “Double Vision”, and “Outatime”) deal with Marty trying to fix the problems this initial jump back to 1931 caused. Over the course of the game we see a future in which Biff has two brothers, with the trio bullying the entire town, and an alternate timeline in which Doc runs a Orwellian dictatorship on Hill Valley in 1985.
A number of the original cast returned to their roles, with Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, Claudia Wells as Jennifer (Wells originally played Jennifer in Back to the Future, but not Parts II and III), and even Michael J. Fox as William McFly and a future version of Marty. A.J. Locascio plays Marty throughout most of the game and does an almost perfect impression of Fox, Thomas F. Wilson returned as Biff for the 2015 re release.
The game manages to take Telltale’s signature episodic style, and combines it with a point and click mystery game, that not only makes for a fun video game, but continues the story of the Mcfly’s and Doc. Brown perfectly.
Jimmy Kimmell Sketch:
2015 was a big year for Back to the Future, as it marked the actual year Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to in Part II. As such a number of promotions and advertisements utilised the theme. One of the few pieces of content to feature both Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly once again, was a sketch on the Jimmy Kimmell Show.
In character as Marty and Doc, the two have travelled to an alternate version of 2015 (from the one they saw in Part II) and interrupted Jimmy’s opening monologue. They go on to point out all the things that they think have gone wrong with the world (like selfies).
Doc Brown Saves the World:
The most recent live action (canon) addition to the Back to the Future universe was a short featured in the thirtieth anniversary box set titled ‘Doc Brown Saves the World’. The short follows Doc Brown (who is leaving a message for Marty McFly) trying to change the future and prevent a nuclear Holocaust in 2045 (which is of course Griff Tannen’s fault).
Doc manages to make the changes (erasing the food hydrator, self lacing shoes, the overboard, and Mr. Fusion) and correct the world to a version much more like our own, father than what we saw in Back to the Future Part II. At the very end of the short (after Doc has seemingly fixed everything) another Doc appears with both being confused at the other’s presence.
Bonus – A Million Ways to Die in the West:
In a non canonical appearance Doc Brown and the DeLorean show up during Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. Whilst McFalrane’s character Albert Stark walks through the town he see’s some strange flashing from a nearby barn, when he investigates he finds Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown hastily covering the DeLorean claiming it to be a weather experiment (another reference to Back to the Future). Although it doesn’t technically line up with the Doc we see in the Old West in Back to the Future Part III, given that it isn’t Hill Valley, it’s a great easter egg nonetheless.
Back to the Future is a huge franchise that has had an almost immeasurable impact upon pop culture, and has continued in a number of ways across numerous mediums since the movies finished. For an in-depth explanation of the many timelines in Back to the Future check out our post Here.