Back to the Future


Why a Goofs Page? Don't get me wrong. I revere Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg. I will go to any movie that has even one of their names in the credits, let alone all 3 of them.
It is fun to spot the infinitesimal flaws that are so few and so hard to spot that it shows what great attention to detail these men spent.

If you think this is a long list of goofs, remember how many people have viewed this film over and over and over before this many goofs were spotted. Most films subjected to this sort of scrutiny would fair far worse.

I have also included responses to alleged goofs which are merely examples of dramatic license, or misunderstanding on the part of the viewer.

Please feel free to email me or sign the guestbook. You will see I give full credit to contributors who give me their names.

Goofs for Back to the Future (1985)

Continuity: The shelf items that fall on Marty when he's blown backwards by the speakers.

Continuity: When the DeLorean goes 1 minute into the future, the fire goes between Doc's legs but when the camera switches angles, it no longer does.

I have one not noticed before. During the spin-up of the tires of the Deloran in BTTF 1, several scenes show the modified radio transmitter Doc uses to control the Deloran remotely. However, The Transmitter is not turned on! If Doc truly modified it like is seen, do you think he would disconnect the important battery power meter on the XMTR (transmitter)? All the scenes shown show the needle all of the way in the red zone; which all R/C modelers know means you have a dead battery, or the XTMR is not turned on! And since Doc uses the joysticks _in_ the XMTR, he needs power going to it! Somebody in Props Dept. messed up making that...

Thanks, and a Tip-of-the-Hat to Electro!

Continuity: Odometer in the DeLorean when Marty is being chased by terrorists.

Continuity: When Marty is escaping from the Libyans, the time circuit is already on when he moves his hand from the ignition to the gearshift. But when he shifts the second time, the time circuit seems to be off until he bumps its power switch.

This just in from Phyllis M. LaVietes:
"I know some Arabic, and the Libyans weren't actually saying Arabic words but were giving a good imitation. The accent was right, at least. "
Tip-of-the-hat to Phyllis!

Errors in geography: Signs show US highway 8 running south, and US 395 east, from Hill Valley. Actually, odd-numbered US highways are north-south; even-numbered ones are east-west. Also, the real US 8 goes nowhere near California, and never did.
I don't think of this as a goof. We are in a fictitious town, and I believe the signs are meant to leave no clue as to where "Hill Valley" is.

Continuity: A picture on the table below Biff, and the candy in Biff's hand when he is talking to George about his car in 1985.
Yes, the picture moves slighlty. Keep in mind that this film was made while Michael J. Fox was starring in "Family Ties", and scenes were shot days or weeks apart, and had to be set-up more than once. I think it is amazing that the picture is the only clue to this.

Continuity: The scarecrow that Marty hits flips over the Delorean twice.

Continuity: The sign atop Red Thomas' campaign car in 1955 changes direction as it turns the corner.
And one of the speakers disappears. There is a front AND rear speaker before the car turns the corner.

Continuity: Length of Marty's hair before he runs into Lou's Diner.

Continuity: The menu in the diner when Marty talks to George after talking to Biff.
Again, remember that this scene may have been shot in separate takes, days or even weeks apart.

Factual errors: In the diner there's a Wurlitzer 1015 juke box playing, yet the wall boxes (remote selections on the jukebox) near the table are the Seeburg brand. The two can never work together since the Seeburg wall box was made for their 45 rpm juke boxes (100 selections) and the Wurlitzer 1015 uses 78 rpm records (24 selections).
There is however a Seeburg jukebox in Doc's garage (visible when Marty answers the phone after the speaker blows). Could the prop people have gotten the two mixed up? Or were they switched for dramatic purpose, because the Wurlitzer is more visually-striking?

Anachronisms: The episode of "Honeymooners, The" (1955) that Lorraine's family watch wasn't shown until 31st December, 1955, yet is seen in November 1955.

Factual errors: The JVC camcorder requires constant pressure to operate the rewind feature, not just a single push and release.

Continuity: When talking to George at the clothesline, both of Marty's shirt pocket flaps are out, but in the next shot one of them is tucked in.

Continuity: Biff's car changes quickly when he is chasing Marty on the skateboard.

There were at least two "Biff" cars used. One has a rear-view mirror, and the other doesn't. Watch for them to switch back and forth. The mirror appears and disappears several times, in both movies. If you spot any other differences between the two cars, or possibly signs of a third car, please email me or let me know.

This just in from

As you are no doubt aware, Biff's car is a '46 Ford Super DeLuxe Convertible. In Part II when Marty is trying to get the "Sports Almanac" from Biff while Biff is driving the car toward the River Road Tunnel, observe the door as Marty hangs on for dear life.

The real production '46 Ford convertibles had a sharp-angled vent window on the front door, as did most contemporary convertibles (and early hardtop convertibles in the '50s). Sedans with a center post had a frame around the front door window and a rounded vent window. Notice the shapes of the vent windows in the various parts of this scene. Some of the shots show the normal sharp-angled vent window, but others show a rounded one! This would indicate that they took a '46 Ford sedan door, cut off the metal frame (convertibles did NOT have a fixed frame around the window) and used it as a prop! Doc's cream Packard convertible has the sharp-angled vent window, check it out in all 3 movies.

I saw at least one of Biff's '46 Fords at Universal in Hollywood and it looked pretty ratty. I guess they gave it a paint job and kept the details of the car out of focus.

One the best features about BTTF were those neat old classics!!

During the scene where Marty is trying to grab the sports almanac from Biff's car as he races toward the River Road Tunnel, observe the folded convertible roof of Biff's Ford. Does it look fake to you? It looks like they made that folded top out of wood and canvas, whereas the real folded roof would either be covered with a boot or be folded closer to the car's interior (the supports were metal, not wood). I'm willing to bet they took a '46 Ford 2-door sedan, cut off the roof, and made it a "convertible." That would also explain the different vent windows!

Why would Zemekis/Spielberg bother cutting the roof like that? Postwar Ford convertibles are prized classics and it's doubtful many owners/collectors would want to lend their cars out for chase scenes...recently some rare versions of the '46 Ford convertible have sold for close to 6 figures (the Sportsman version)..whereas the sedans are much more commonplace.
...Bill H.

Continuity: When being chased by Biff, Marty's grip on the truck momentarily changes from the back to the side.

Continuity: Alignment of Biff's car when it hits the manure truck.

Continuity: Marty's skateboard suddenly gains modern wheels and trucks.

Continuity: When Marty is pretending to be Darth Vader, the hair dryer in his belt appears and disappears.

Plot holes: Right after Marty returns to 1985, the yellow readout (the one that shows when you just left) should read "November 12, 1955". Instead, it says "October", which is the month in 1985.

Continuity: When marvin Berry is playing Night Train (before the band goes on break) The Fender Amplifier is sitting on a Pepsi-Cola crate. When Marty Plays, The Crate is gone.

Fender Bassman, 1955-1960, favored by many guitarists (including Chuck Berry), even though designed for the bass

As seen in Back To The Future!
The Fender 59 Bassman® Combo
has been re-issued!
Fender« 59 Bassman Limited
Fender« 59 Bassman Limited

Fender« Blonde Blues JuniorÖ Guitar Amp
Fender« Blonde Blues JuniorÖ Guitar Amp

The Blues Junior is an affordable alternative to the Fender Bassman.

Tuning discrepancies:
Marty is shown playing Earth Angel in the key of 'A' (he plays A, F#m, D, and E, which are the correct chords for this song in the key of A). However, any of you musicians who care to jam along with the video will find that the song is being performed in the key of F (use, F, Dm, B flat, and C) which is a much friendlier key for the saxophone.
And although Marty calls the key of 'B' to the band, and indeed is shown playing Johhny B. Goode in the key of 'B', any of you musicians who jam along will find the song is performed in the key of B flat, which is again a much better key for the sax player, and for blues pianists who like to roll off the black keys. If you are a guitarist who tunes a half-step flat ala Stevie Ray Vaughan , then play the song with the same fingerings Marty uses and you will be in tune with the video. Perhaps Marty was tuned a half-step flat for this song, which would be understandable considering how heavy guitar strings were back in the fifties.

If you want to jam along with the CD, you can buy it here!
In Association with Back To The Future: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack

Anachronisms: In 1955 Marty plays a Gibson ES-355, a model which didn't exist until 1959.
This just in: Jeff Chabotte, ( points out that it is NOT an ES-355, but an ES-345. Look closely at the peghed and notice the distinctive 3-piece split diamond inlay is not there, just the Gibson crown inlay. And the fret-marker inlays are split paralelograms, not block inlays. The guitar in BTTF is an ES-345, and the Bigsby Vibrato was an after factory customization, because you can see the pair of metal sockets the stop tailpiece was removed from to make room for the Bigsby.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time somebody noticed this. Tip-of-the-hat to Jeff! I am sure the producers' intent was to replicate Chuck Berry's guitar, and the ES-345 was close enough to fool even professional guitarists. Is my face red?

Marty Mcfly playing a Gibson ES-345

Yours truly with my Gibson ES-335

Audio - "Earth-Angel"

I believe the Gibson ES-345 is an example of dramatic license. Zemeckis and Speilberg pay close attention to details like this. They knew the ES-345 was an anachronism, but I am sure they also knew it was as close to Chuck Berry's signature guitar as they could get (the Gibson ES-355 has been Chuck's main guitar for decades, even though Chuck didn't use that model until the 1960's). It is a great dramatic moment to see Marty McFly playing the same model as Chuck, doing Chuck's riffs. This is not a "goof", as in unintentional error. This is quite intentional dramatic license.

Gibson ES-345 Reissue
Gibson ES-345 Reissue

The Gibson ES-345 Reissue is now available! It ain't cheap, but it is one beautiful Guitar! Sounds even better than it looks, and plays like a dream!

Chuck Berry with his ES-355
Chuck Berry - Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll

Continuity: Strickland holds his hands over his ears then puts them down after Marty plays "Johnny B Goode," then in the wide shot of the crowd Strickland has his hands over his ears again.

Continuity: The page that Marty rips out of the phonebook at Lou's diner.

Anachronisms: Doc Brown wears Velcro footwear, which wasn't developed until the 1980s.
What scene does the above refer to? I have looked and looked for the referenced footwear, but the only shoes I see Doc wear are the white on black, which were quite popular in the 1950's. I believe this to be an error in the Internet Movie Database.

NEWS FLASH! This just in:
I believe the shoes can be seen when Doc is hanging from the clock and the cable is hooked on his pants. I'm not really sure about this, somebody told me but I've never bothered to check.

If he is wearing these shoes, IMDB is still wrong. It wouldn't be a "goof".
Do you really think Rob Z. would screw up by putting the 1955 Doc in 1980s foot wear? There is so much attention to detail in BTTF a mistake like that is impossible. So why would the 1955 Doc be wearing Velcro shoes? Because they were Doc's shoes, 1985 Doc. It was probably in the suit case with the hair dryer, playboy, and underwear.
A big Tip-of-the-Hat to Bosch! Okay, I checked out the hanging-from-the-clock scene on my LaserDisc, and sure enough, there are the velcro straps on the shoes. I agree with Bosch completely. The shoes were in Doc's suitcase. There may or may not be a scene on the cutting-room floor that showed Doc discovering them in the suitcase. Now, everybody, off to your VCR's and LD's and check out the clock-hanging scene!

Plot holes: When the tower clock is running, it advances in 1-minute steps, so the time it stops at specifies the time of the lightning strike only to the nearest minute. Doc Brown is intimately familiar with clocks and yet his plan to use the lightning assumes that the time is known exactly.

Continuity: Marty's signature on his warning to Doc changes when we see the letter in 1985.
More from Phyllis M. LaVietes:
"BTW, it isn't only Marty's signature that changes from the letter he wrote in 1955 to the letter Doc opens in 1985. The word "disaster" is in one place in one letter, and a different place in the other letter, and the first letter of "disaster" is capitalized in one letter but not in the other. "

Another tip-of-the-hat to Phyllis! Keep sending in those ideas, folks! I will give credit openly here.

Here's the Trilogy CD. It does not have the rock songs on it, just the orchestral pieces.
In Association with Soundtrack Back to the Future-Trilogy

Here's the one I like! I bought it on vinyl back when the movie first came out. This is the best rendition of "Earth Angel" on Earth (this or any alternate Earth). I wore the LP out. Had to buy the CD.
In Association with Back To The Future: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack

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Musical notes and sources
(BTTF music trivia and where to get "Mr. Sandman" and others)

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