List of Back to the Future characters

List of Back to the Future characters

The Back to the Future film trilogy and subsequent animated series feature characters created by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale.

The main protagonist of the series is Marty McFly. During the course of the trilogy, he travels through time using a DeLorean time machine invented by his friend Emmett Brown, encounters the main antagonist, Biff Tannen, in several different time periods and visits his family ancestors and descendants.


Main characters

Marty McFly

Martin "Marty" McFly, portrayed by Michael J. Fox in the films and voiced by David Kaufman in the animated series and AJ LoCascio in Back to the Future: The Game, is the son of George McFly and Lorraine Baines McFly, and the main protagonist of the film trilogy. Marty travels between the past and the future, encountering his ancestors and descendants. Marty and his friend Doc Brown help restore the space-time continuum while encountering Biff Tannen at various points in time.

Emmett "Doc" Brown

Doctor Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown, portrayed by Christopher Lloyd in the films and Back to the Future: The Game, and voiced by Dan Castellaneta in the animated series, is the inventor of the DeLorean time machine. At various points in time, Doc helps Marty restore the space-time continuum and reverse the changes that were caused by time travel.

In 2008, the character was selected by Empire Magazine as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, ranking at #76.[1]

McFly family

George McFly

Crispin Glover as the 17-year-old George McFly in 1955.

George Douglas McFly[2] (portrayed by Crispin Glover in Back to the Future and by Jeffrey Weissman in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III and voiced by Michael X. Sommers in Back to the Future: The Game) is the father of Marty, Linda and Dave from the union with his wife Lorraine Baines McFly. Although he is one of the main characters in the first movie, George only appears briefly in Back to the Future Part II.

In the first film, George is portrayed as weak and the main target of Biff Tannen's bullying. The novelization of the film expands on George's history of weakness, describing two incidents in which he is unable to stand up for himself. In 1955, George was spying on Lorraine when he fell from a tree onto the street below and right in front of her father's car. Lorraine nursed him back to health, and the two fell in love. However, after traveling from 1985 to 1955, Marty inadvertently alters history when Lorraine becomes infatuated with him instead of George. Marty helps George become more confident, which ultimately leads to a confrontation between George and Biff. George rescues Lorraine from Biff which causes alterations to history, to the benefit of George and his family.

Jeffrey Weissman as a 77-year-old George McFly, in 2015.

George's character was greatly reduced in the sequels, and the role was recast to Jeffrey Weissman.[3] Weissman wore prosthetics to resemble Glover and imitated Glover's rendering of McFly, and his scenes were spliced with shots of Glover from Back to the Future.[4] The result was a very convincing rendering of George — one so convincing, in fact, that many people were fooled by it.[4] Glover did not appreciate this, and sued. The lawsuit resulted in the adoption of stricter rules by the Screen Actors Guild to prevent this situation from occurring again.[4]

George is seen only briefly as a 77-year-old in the year 2015. Later, Biff travels back in time and changes history. In the alternate history resulting from his actions, George was shot and killed on March 15, 1973.[2] George's killer was never found, though Biff admitted to Marty that he had murdered his father. Fortunately, Marty and Doc undid the damage Biff did to the timeline, and by the end of Back to the Future Part II, George's murder had never taken place.

Lorraine Baines McFly

Lorraine Baines McFly (portrayed by Lea Thompson and voiced by Aimee Miles in Back to the Future: The Game) is the wife of George McFly and the mother of Marty, Linda and Dave. In Back to the Future, Lorraine is portrayed in 1985 as middle-aged, overweight, depressed and an alcoholic, partly due to her husband's inability to stand up for himself.

After traveling from 1985 to 1955, Marty inadvertently alters history when Lorraine becomes infatuated with him instead of George. Much to Marty's surprise, in 1955, Lorraine repeatedly engages in behavior she later classifies as "looking for trouble" in 1985, such as parking in cars with boys, drinking liquor and smoking.

Marty attempts to bring Lorraine and George together with a plan in which George will "rescue" Lorraine from Marty's physical advances. However, Biff intervenes and locks Marty in the trunk of another car and prepares to rape Lorraine. When George arrives at the parked car expecting to find Marty, he instead finds Biff. While Biff at first has the upper hand in the ensuing fight, George punches Biff, knocking him out and rescuing Lorraine. With Marty's blessing, George and Lorraine head to the school dance together where George is again able to assert himself.

After arriving back in 1985, Marty finds that his parents are both successful and happy due to George's ability to assert himself and their later successes in life.

In Back to the Future Part II, Lorraine is portrayed as still happily married to George in 2015. However, when Marty buys Gray's Sports Almanac in 2015, the older Biff goes back in time giving the almanac to his 1955 counterpart, altering 1985 in the process so that George is dead and Lorraine is married to Biff. In the film, Lorraine, drink-sodden, caters to Biff's demands so that her children from her marriage to George are protected due to her second husband's immense wealth, power and influence.

Seamus and Maggie McFly

Seamus and Maggie McFly (portrayed by Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson) are Irish immigrants and the paternal great-great grandparents of Marty McFly. In Back to the Future Part III, Marty is befriended by Seamus and Maggie when first arriving in 1885 after falling down a steep hill and crashing into their fence. While Maggie doesn't trust the "strange young man", Seamus has a familiar feeling about him and believes that helping him is the right thing to do.

Much like his descendants, Seamus is harassed by a member of the Tannen family, Buford Tannen. However, Seamus ignores Buford, and dismisses his bluster as "hot air from a buffoon". Seamus's aversion to confrontation stems from the death of his brother Martin, who, like his namesake, had a short fuse when provoked and was ultimately killed in a fight. His wisdom provides his great-great grandson, Marty McFly, invaluable insights which help change his future for the better.

Brown family

Clara Clayton

Clara Clayton as portrayed by Mary Steenburgen.

Clara Clayton (portrayed by Mary Steenburgen in both Back to the Future Part III and the animated series) is the wife of Doc Brown and mother of Jules and Verne Brown.

Clara moved to Hill Valley on September 4, 1885 and originally died in an accident when her wagon plummets into Shonash Ravine, which was renamed Clayton Ravine in her memory. However, history is altered when Doc and Marty intervene, saving Clara's life. After attending the Hill Valley festival together on September 5, 1885 and spending the night watching stars through her telescope, Doc and Clara discover a common fondness for the novelist Jules Verne and fall in love. When Marty returns to 1985, Doc stays in 1885 to be with Clara. Doc later builds a new time machine and travels with Clara and their two children to say goodbye once again to Marty.

The animated series reveals that Clara, along with the rest of the family, moved to by then the early 1990s and lived in a farmhouse outside of Hill Valley. Clara settled into early 1990s life, becoming a teacher at Hill Valley Elementary, and often solved crises after coming up with innovative ideas.

Jules and Verne Brown

Jules Eratosthenes Brown and Verne Newton Brown (portrayed by Todd Cameron Brown and Daniel Evans in Back to the Future Part III and voiced by Josh Keaton and Troy Davidson in the animated series) are the two children of Doc Brown and his wife, Clara, who named them after their favourite author Jules Verne.

The characters had minor, non-speaking roles in Back to the Future Part III but were further developed in the animated series. Jules, an introvert, mostly imitates his father's interests and mannerisms while Verne appears to be more outgoing and extroverted. Several plot points of the animated series revolve around either Jules or Verne altering history and the steps necessary to correct the damage.


Copernicus is Doc's dog from 1955. He appears in the first film without his name mentioned. Later, in the third film, Doc mentions the dog's name. Like his other dogs, Copernicus was used in many of Doc's experiments. When Copernicus died, he was replaced by Einstein.


Einstein (portrayed by Freddie in the films and voiced by Danny Mann in the animated series) is Doc Brown's pet Catalan sheepdog. He later becomes one of the main characters in the animated series as the Brown family's dog.

In the first film, Einstein is placed in the time machine and successfully travels through time. Later, Doc has him placed in a suspended animation kennel when Marty travels to 2015. After Biff alters history, Marty and Doc leave him behind to correct their future.

In the animated series, Einstein becomes anthropomorphic and smarter, helping Doc with his inventions for traveling to the past and the future.

Tannen family

Biff Tannen

Biff Tannen, portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in the films and animated series and voiced by Kid Beyond in Back to the Future: The Game, is the primary antagonist in the first and second films and in the animated series in which Wilson provided the voice. He is a local bully who harassed George McFly and has once altered history in the second film. He comes from a long line of bullies in Hill Valley, most of whom harassed members of the McFly family.

Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen

Buford Tannen (portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in Back to the Future Part III) is the primary antagonist of the third film and the great-grandfather of Biff Tannen. He was nicknamed "Mad Dog" by a newspaper reporter, due to his violent temper and propensity for drooling.

When Doc Brown accidentally gets sent back in time to 1885, Buford offered him to work as a blacksmith. However, on September 5, 1885, at the town festival, Buford shot him in the back due to Doc's actions which led to the loss of Buford's horse and whiskey (Doc died 2 days later on September 7, 1885). After Marty travels from 1885, Buford and his gang try to lynch Marty, only to have him escape. During the town festival, Buford tries to kill Doc but Marty saves him, ultimately leading into a confrontation between Marty and Buford. He challenges Marty into a shootout, the day would be on September 7th, the day after robbing the Pine City Stage. On the day of the shoot out, Buford kidnaps Doc, leading into another confrontation between Marty and Buford. After Marty defeats Buford, he is arrested for the robbery.


Griff (portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson in both Back to the Future Part II and in the animated series) is an antagonist in Back to the Future Part II and the cybernetically-enhanced grandson of Biff Tannen. Griff is part of a gang that also consists of "Data", "Spike", and "Whitey".

On October 21, 2015, Griff and his gang originally forced Marty McFly, Jr. to rob the Hill Valley Payroll Substation. Marty Jr. reluctantly agreed but inadvertently set off the alarm and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, history is altered when Marty, posing as his son, refuses to cooperate, leading to a hoverboard chase across the courtyard square. Griff and his gang crash into the Courthouse Mall and are arrested while Marty escapes unharmed.

In the animated series, Griff makes a brief cameo appearance in one episode where his grandson, Ziff, is detained after he attempts to sabotage Marta McFly's space cruiser.

Griff's last name is never mentioned in the movies, meaning that he could either be the son of Biff's son Biff Jr (which seems nearly impossible), or the son of Biff's daughter, Tiffaney.

Other characters

Jennifer Parker

Claudia Wells as Jennifer in Back to the Future (top), and Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer in the same scene (bottom), which was re-shot for Back to the Future Part II.

Jennifer Jane Parker is the girlfriend (and, in 2015 in Back to the Future II, the wife) of the protagonist Marty McFly.

The character was played by Claudia Wells in Back to the Future and Back to the Future: The Game. Wells was not available to film the sequels for personal reasons, and the role was recast to Elisabeth Shue although Wells reprised her role as Jennifer in Back to the Future: The Game as a punk rock version of her character. Consequently, the final scene of Back to the Future, which leads to Back to the Future Part II and which is shown at the beginning of that movie, had to be re-shot with Shue taking Wells' place. In the spin-off Back to the Future: the Animated Series, Jennifer was voiced by Cathy Cavadini.

In 1985, Jennifer attends Hill Valley High School, along with her boyfriend Marty. At the end of Back to the Future, Emmett Brown takes her and Marty to 2015. While there, Jennifer gets a glimpse of her future with Marty, learning that Marty was involved in a car accident that ruined his life. Jennifer married him out of pity rather than love, in a ceremony about which her time-traveling self is horrified to learn. However, this future was undone at the end of Back to the Future Part III, and the new future of Jennifer and Marty is implied to be a much brighter one.

In the animated series, Jennifer lives with her family on a ranch, the deed to the which was owned by Biff Tannen, after one of his ancestors forced Jennifer's great-great-grandfather to sign it over by holding Jennifer's great-great-grandmother hostage. In the episode "A Friend in Deed", Marty travels back in time to 1875 and sabotages the deal.[5]

In the future witnessed in Back to the Future Part II, Jennifer and Marty had two children, Marlene and Marty Jr. According to the animated series episode "Solar Sailor", she also has a great-granddaughter, Marta McFly, in the year 2091.[6]

Douglas J. Needles

Douglas J. Needles (portrayed by Flea in Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III) is an acquaintance of Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker.

Needles originally goaded Marty into a street race by calling him "chicken" on October 27, 1985, causing Marty to crash his new Toyota pickup into a Rolls-Royce, and later bullies Marty into participating in a shady business deal, which causes Marty to be fired from his future job. However, after the events of Back to the Future Part III, Marty avoids the street race, altering the future in his own favor.

Gerald Strickland

Mr. Strickland as portrayed by James Tolkan in the alternate 1985.

Gerald Strickland[7] (portrayed by James Tolkan) is the authoritarian discipline officer of Hill Valley High School. He is the grandson of Chief Marshal James Strickland of Hill Valley 1885.

In the first film, Strickland catches Marty and Jennifer sneaking into school late. Strickland scolds Marty for hanging around with Doc and notes that Marty's band is auditioning for the dance that evening, commenting that he is a "slacker" like his father. When Marty travels to 1955, he meets a younger Strickland, who is also not impressed with Marty's playing. The younger Strickland looks identical to his older self, leading Marty to comment "did that guy ever have hair?"

In the second film, while in the altered 1985, Marty runs into Strickland in front of his house. Strickland assumes that Marty is the person who was stealing his newspapers, keeping him at bay with a shotgun. Marty, unsure why Strickland doesn't know him, learns that the high school had been destroyed by a fire in 1979 in that altered timeline. Later when Marty and Doc go back to 1955, he unknowingly interferes with Marty as he attempts to destroy the Sports Almanac and restore the space-time continuum.

In the animated series, Mr. Strickland becomes the Dean of Hill Valley College and he was also an Army soldier when Marty travels into the 1940s.

Goldie Wilson

Goldie Wilson is a young black man working at Lou's Cafe in 1955 who goes on to become Mayor of Hill Valley in the 1980s. He is played by Donald Fullilove. A campaign poster shows the name "Goldie" in quotation marks, suggesting "Goldie" is a nickname, presumably in reference to his gold tooth, but in fact, the nickname was initially applied by Steven Spielberg to his boss, whose haircut was considered feminine (his hair curled out) at the time.

James Strickland

James Strickland (portrayed by James Tolkan in Back to the Future Part III) is the chief marshal of Hill Valley in 1885 and the grandfather of Mr. Strickland. In the third film, Strickland breaks up a confrontation between Buford and Marty at the town festival.

In a deleted scene Strickland is murdered by Buford. This piece of information is later introduced in Back to the Future: The Game, when interacting Edna's Strickland's photo of James. Marty remarks that he didn't remember that happening during his trip to 1885, a subtle nod to the fact that the scene was cut from the final film. [8]

Match, Skinhead, and 3-D

Match (Billy Zane), Skinhead (Jeffrey Jay Cohen) and 3-D (Casey Siemaszko) are the three high school boys who make up Biff Tannen's gang in 1955. Their nicknames are only given in the films' novels, screenplays, and credits. Only one of their real names is mentioned in the movies - Biff refers to Skinhead as Joey in one of the 1955 scenes in Back to the Future Part II, while outside of the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance.

Each gets his nickname from a distinctive character trait. "Match" often has a match sticking out of his mouth; "Skinhead" has very short, close-cropped hair; "3-D" is always wearing a pair of 3-D glasses (a reference to the 3-D movies that were popular in the 1950s).

They seem just as mean-spirited as Biff but seem content to let Biff boss them around. They are also Biff's helpers in the alternate 1985 where Match is the guy that has the tall cowboy hat and always has a match sticking out of his mouth, Skinhead is the guy that's the shortest and has grey and black hair, and 3-D usually has a pair of shades and long hair.


  1. ^ "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  2. ^ a b Back to the Future Part II Gravestone reads "In Loving Memory Of George Douglas McFly"
  3. ^ Jeffrey Weissman at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ a b c Glover Clarifies “Back to the Future” Squabble at
  5. ^ A Friend in Deed episode recap at
  6. ^ Solar Sailors episode recap at
  7. ^ Telltale, Incorporated. Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time. Level/area: May 14, 1986, 6:42 pm - Edna's apartment - "Pictures". (December 22, 2010) "Marty McFly: Is that... Vice Principal Strickland? Edna Strickland: Mother never could keep little Gerald out of her clothes..."
  8. ^

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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