First of all, this is just a question based on my curiosity. It can seem pointless and illogical because of some missing piece of information, but I am asking it anyway based on my understanding of the movie, so correct me if I am wrong here. Anyway, The question is:

When Marty comes back to 'Twin Pine Mall' at the end of "back to the future 1", he sees that Libyans are coming and he rushes towards the doc to warn him. Important thing to mention here is that he returns 10 minutes earlier than he left. Now after he returns, he sees all of the events that have taken course including doc getting shot, Libyans firing and himself getting in the DeLorean and vanishing into 1955. During those 10 minutes, we see that there are 2 Marties existing in the same timeline.

Now this is where I am also unsure but let's assume that the vanished Marty would go back again in 1955 and will do all of the things in the same sequence as he did before. This also implies that he will also return back to the future 10 minutes earlier than he left the second time and so on.

So the thing is, wouldn't that create some sort of a loop? And there will always be a Marty returning back to the future?.

I just want to know what the writers intended or what is the closest to what they intended


4 Answers 4


There are 2 different timelines at play here. Let's call Marty1 the Marty that we know and love. He goes to the past and creates timeline 2 and changes a bunch of things which are now part of a new timeline. People from his timeline now are not the same and may not even exist. Which is why the people in the picture are disappearing. Luckily Marty1 doesn't affect things so badly that they are wiped from existence. When Marty goes back to 10min before he leaves. He is in the new timeline. The Marty he sees is Marty2. He can go down.and stop him.from going all.he wants. It won't affect him. They are not the same person. This is evident because Marty2 grew up in a better home with successful parents.

  • This is a much better answer which at-least acknowledges both Marties and their presence in their own timelines. and if you look at the question, it was never about the original Marty. its about the 2nd Marty going back, doing the same things, get back (in any timeline) and he will keep coming back 10 minutes earlier. but if he does things differently then, he is out of the loop surely.
    – Jonny_g
    May 7, 2021 at 1:55

It's a plot hole, but one you shouldn't look too deeply into.

There is no Marty1 & Marty2, there is a single Marty. It's convenient, though, to use them as placeholders for which timeline we're talking about.

What you think of as Marty1, who comes back 10 minutes early to see his former self as Marty2 simply cannot happen [or might be extremely unlikely], because Marty2 wouldn't have needed to make the trip, or may not have even met the Doc at all. His entire life, background and upbringing would have been different.

This, however is beside the point.

What you need to do is suspend disbelief, or the plot fails.
It doesn't matter whether there's a paradox, or two independent time-lines with apparently the same plot-line happening in each.

At the moment this temporary duality exists, neither Marty1 nor the audience is aware that this current timeline is not the same as the one he left.
It's needed to round out some hanging points left over from the 'first time' Marty1 leaves. Those are dealt with, and then we move on, not examining too closely.
By the time he gets home, he realises there have been changes, for the better.
Surprise, cheers, applause. The audience goes home, satisfied - and not incidentally excited that they know there's going to be a sequel.

So, Marty1 sees Marty1, earlier in time. He does not see Marty2. There is no Marty2. The Marty who returns home never goes back to 1955 again. There is no loop.

  • this is the same answer I gave with a lot of extra words. May 3, 2021 at 15:39
  • I get your point but you are suggesting that Marty2 is just a placeholder for Marty1 until he vanishes. I believe if thats the case, then Marty1 shouldn't be able to interact with Marty2 if they come across. But i doubt it, since the movie always suggests that you can run into your future/past selves and can interact.
    – Jonny_g
    May 7, 2021 at 2:02
  • Interaction has nothing to do with it. If they're both there at the same time, they could interact, of course, even if they shouldn't.
    – Tetsujin
    May 7, 2021 at 17:44

Marty that traveled to the past arrives back in his originating time to see himself time travel, but that Marty doesn't travel again, he wakes up the next day at the end of Back to the Future. He is not the Marty in the Delereon dissappearing to 1955 he is the Marty watching.

  • That describe the scenario to the question. Now the question would be, what would happen to the Marty who vanished the second time?. The Marty leaving at the end of the movie, not the one who is watching. Assuming the second time vanishing Marty will do the same thing in 1955 and will come back as 3rd Marty and sees the 2nd Marty (not the 1st one) do all of that again, because he came back 10 minutes earlier. And it will keep going on
    – Jonny_g
    May 3, 2021 at 8:48
  • @Jonny_g I think you're a bit confused. Marty goes to 1955 once, and comes back to see himself departing. When he leaves he is unaware that there's a second instance of himself observing him. The Marty that leaves doesn't know anything that happened in the movie because it didn't happen to him yet.
    – Luciano
    May 3, 2021 at 9:01
  • Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with Marty observing another Marty. It is about reoccurrences of Marties based on assumption that he follows the same sequence in 1955. They can still exist in the same space at the same time and be unaware like at the end of the movie. However, I understand the second part of your answer assuming that he does things differently the second time
    – Jonny_g
    May 3, 2021 at 9:09
  • @Jonny_g he never enters the time loop you are describing here. May 3, 2021 at 9:12
  • 2
    "lets assume that he keeps doing the same thing in 1955 " He is not in 1955. He traveled back to his time. That is not how the film ended. May 3, 2021 at 9:40

As you say, Marty - let;s call him Marty1 - returns 10 minutes before he left, just in time to see all the events play out as from the start of the movie.

However, despite the fact that what he sees matches the start of the movie, what we soon find out is that the timeline that he has returned to is a very different timeline from the one that he left. In this new timeline, his father George is a successful author, who presumably never returned to his earlier peeping-tom activities.

So what our original Marty1 saw, was that this new timeline's Marty2 setting off on the adventure - NOT himself. That new timeline's Marty2 goes back to the new timeline's 1955 and presumably changes things there. This will not be the same 1955 timeline that we had just witnessed Marty1 visiting in the movie - each timeline can only have one deLorean receiving the lightening strike for example.

So Marty2 changes something in his 1955 timeline, so changes his timeline to something else, and returns to that. Maybe there's an infinite number of Martys proceeding in sucession.

Or maybe Marty2, the successful author's son, changed the timeline so George is no longer successful, and therefore Marty2 returns to Marty1's McFly family that we saw at the start of the movie.

Boy, is he in for a shock !

  • This is where i also got confused. Sure, the reality he comes back to at the end of the movie is different to the one he left. But he still sees himself leaving even in newer timeline. Does that mean, that there will be infinite timelines if he keeps doing it?.
    – Jonny_g
    May 3, 2021 at 9:14
  • Because i also read somewhere, that back to the future was supposed to take place in timelines eventually leading to a singular timeline rather than multiple timelines. If thats the case, then there is no need for this discussion
    – Jonny_g
    May 3, 2021 at 9:28

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