How Did Marty and Doc Become Friends Before 'Back to the Future'?

August 16, 2011
Source: Mental Floss

Marty McFly and Doc Brown

Watching the film hundreds of times throughout my life, I've been one of those viewers who's come to wonder about an unknown detail concerning our two protagonists in the Back to the Future trilogy. Obviously Dr. Emmett L. Brown and Marty McFly are good friends when we begin our story, but it's never really explained how a young, awkward and somewhat rebellious high school kid hooked up with a wacky, scientist which many find to be nothing more than a crackpot around town. Thankfully co-writer Bob Gale noticed this question at Mental Floss and came through with info on Marty and Doc's friendship.

Here's what Gale revealed as to how Marty and Doc became friends before the film begins:

Okay, from the horse's mouth (yes, I'm the horse—er, co-writer, co-creator): We never explained it in the movie. But the history of the characters that Bob Zemeckis and I created is this…

For years, Marty was told that Doc Brown was dangerous, a crackpot, a lunatic. So, being a red-blooded American teenage boy, age 13 or 14, he decided to find out just why this guy was so dangerous. Marty snuck into Doc's lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. When Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc.

And that's the origin of their relationship.

So it may not be the most exciting information, but at long last, fans of the series now know why a teenage kid and a brilliant but cooky scientist became friends. Surely there's been some wild theories out there, but now we can lay them all to rest. Either way, the dynamic between these two characters on screen for no less than three films is just so fantastic, it really doesn't matter all that much why/how they became friends. Of course, cinephile like myself just have to know everything about their favorite movies. And knowing is half the battle.

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  • Anonymous
    Closure at last. :)
  • Ryupoi
    I always assumed the Doc sought out Marty as a kid and befriended him because he knew Marty from his appearance in the past from his time travel trip back to 1955.  This theory did create a paradox though because one event must lead to the other in a circular kind of way. 
    • Yes but in the story that DID happen. So Doc must have known about Marty from him showing up in his past either way. 😉 You might even remember Doc said it's going to be hard waiting 30 years to see him again.
    • Keewatin427
      Yeah, I though the same thing. Paradox protection. I always thought it would be funny if Doc Brown actually secretly resented Marty for this, causing a ridiculous loop in his life that he is destined to play a part in whether he wants to or not.
  • Is that a prequel I smell????!
    • BG
  • Cbfawley
    The other half is being able to kill strangers
  • interesting bit... hope no more movies are done though, I think the trilogy is perfect the way it is...
    • GuiHarrison
      They managed to rest the movies and lay some interesting new stories in another media. In the game series. Maintaining Bob Gale as writer, the unforgettable Christopher Lloyd and a little bit of Michael J. Fox made a really good addition to the original, perfect story.
  • Matt Gaser
    Prequel for sure!  Once they meet...Doc begins work on a time machine with Marty's help.  They have several tests that go terribly wrong all involving time travel (but with a twist).  Perhaps they use the Refrigerator from the original story...  Finally ending the movie where the first began.  I wonder if they could apply the same technology from Benjamin Button to Michael J Fox, keeping him young or even younger without replacing him to another actor.  Dude, this could be a major Zemeckis come back...
    • "Perhaps they can use the Refridgerator from the original story" and nuke it. 😉 That prequel would make an alternate timeline btw since Marty didn't know about the time machine before he saw it the first time in the beginning of the first movie. 
  • Rp1n
    That was what was implied all along from the first film. Honestly people. Does everything have to be spelled out to you?
    • Hattori Hanzo
      I agree %100  Rp1n. I was surprised to discover from this thread that there was anyone who had any questions on that. 
  • RobotHuman
    I could see Hollywood remaking the series in 10+ years and including the origin of their relationship on film.
  • Awww. :)
  • Joshua m
    I always, and by always I mean from the time I first read the title of this article, assumed it had something to do with that giant guitar amp the Doc owned. Whatever.  
  • cinemabandit
    The Marty McFly friendship is a time paradox in itself.  Everyone knows that prior to the first time travel the Doc was actually friends with Eric Stoltz.
    • Voice of Reason
      HAHAHAAAAAaaaahoboy, awesome
  • CrimsonAvenger
    It all makes sense now! Awesome post!
  • Anonymous
    no  no no u got it all wrong they meet when doc was messing with some mescaline and shrooms he needed a test subject which resulted in all that happened in the movies 😛
  • C.Barnicle
    I smell prequel....




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