Doc Brown has got a time machine, why is he in a hurry in the end of Back to the Future part 1? Why doesn't he just give a parenting lesson to Marty?

A little more context: At the very end of part one, doc goes back to Marty to tell him about his son which is going to jail in the future and they need to stop that to happen. He is really in a hurry, but c'mon, you can wait a couple of days in the present then go back to the future at the very same moment he intended to go in first instance. He has plenty of time to achieve that!

  • 14
    Honestly, Doc is almost always in a hurry. I would guess it's just a character trait... plus, he seems to avoid discussing "heavy" stuff that isn't physics-related... at least until the very end of the third movie.
    – Catija
    May 23, 2015 at 21:15
  • 4
    And he may have a time machine, but he's still only got a single life time to use. Parenting lessons probably aren't something he's particularly interested in providing, nor qualified to at that point in his life.
    – TZHX
    May 23, 2015 at 22:07
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    Because he knew he had only a few seconds before the closing credits.
    – Voitcus
    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:54

3 Answers 3


I hope I don't spoil the party with an out-of-universe explanation, but I thought that this was really interesting when I found it out: It was just supposed to be funny. The sequels weren't written yet.

In the commentary on the DVD, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale explain the scene, that it was all just there for fun, including the "To be continued…". At the time, they weren't planning on making a sequel, and in their own words, were just hoping that the first movie would break even at the box office. This scene was just a sort of joke.

Afterward, when the film was such a success that they were asked to write a script for a sequel, they regretted writing this scene the way that they did, because Doc and Marty brought Jennifer along, which limited their options in writing the next script. If it has just been Doc and Marty, they could have made the next movie about anything they wanted, the two guys on any crazy adventure in time. With Jennifer around (and what Doc said), the second movie now had to be about their kids. They had "painted themselves into a corner" in a way, but still managed to make an excellent story out of it!

  • 1
    Something to add - in the "Back in Time" documentary they said that the "To be continued..." text did not appear in the theatrical version of the movie, but was rather tacked on by the studio to the VHS release. I haven't checked personally but apparently it's not on the DVD or BR versions that have been released since. It's probable that the sequels were greenlit by the time the VHS was released. Most people probably saw it only once or twice in theaters but dozens of times on VHS so most people figure it was in the original movie when it wasn't.
    – Tom Kidd
    Mar 7, 2016 at 18:20
  • @TomKidd, yep watched the DVD the other day with my kids and the "To be continued" is missing. I've seen it on TV broadcasts though.
    – Darren
    Aug 2, 2017 at 8:51

Whenever Doc Brown reaches an epiphany, he immediately sets to work to fulfill the context of said event. As an eccentric scientist, he has become accustomed to working in a high strung and over-driven manner, as he is always eager to have his projects come to fruition. With regards to what he concluded about Marty's children, he was alarmed by their unfortunate delinquency. Therefore, his perspective was that his epiphany needed his fullest attention, despite time being irrelevant in relation to the urgency.

  • It could also be argued that while Doc could have told Marty what was going to happen and how to prevent it from happening, this would involve two things: 1) Tampering with how Marty would normally have dealt with any kids he had [if Marty had been, say, overbearing with his kids, this could have changed things for the worse] and 2) Marty would have had to remember the specific problem on the specific day it happened. Doc lived to that point by himself, so he could easier remember a note Marty left him 30 years prior. Marty, who would have had a wife and kids to deal with, might forget. May 26, 2015 at 11:19
  • Err... sorry you unaccepted this. Jeez.
    – DarthBotto
    Jun 4, 2015 at 0:26

My theory is Doc was lying. He tells Jennifer and Marty that a cascade of bad events started with their kids at this one event in the future. Truth is it all started within an hour of that moment when getting warned by Doc. Marty gets into a car accident with his truck and injures his hand that ends his ability to play guitar. He may have not became famous but that incident in Marty's teenaged life made him pretty much give up on his dreams and to become a better man. Marty up to that point had about 17 years with a weak timid father and borderline alcoholic mother and after all that time traveling he spent maybe 30 minutes with the confident and successful family before he takes that drive. So Marty still has in the back of his head a fear of turning into his parents and after the accident accepts that his dreams are crushed and he just settles for things as they are. When Doc goes to the future he sees what Marty has become and decides that he needs to expose both Marty and Jennifer to this so they can change his path for the better. It wouldn’t be enough just to stop the accident but to completely help Marty evolve.

  • 1
    This is a great theory, and probably a better story, but is there anything to support it?
    – T.J.L.
    Jan 7, 2019 at 15:28

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