In the first Back to the Future movie, Doc Brown seems to have a fairly large amount of money. He has his own house, a camper, a Delorean (which was a fairly expensive car), which he didn't seem to be scared of losing in time or breaking, etc. He obviously had enough funds for his inventions for decades, most of which at least looked like they would require expensive components.

Furthermore, when Marty goes to meet him in 1955, he seems to live in a much larger house (Brown Mansion).

I can't recall any dialogue or backstory explaining where he gets his money in the movies. in 1955, He is super happy (and surprised) to hear that he finally built something that works. I assume he hasn't been living off selling his inventions in that case, at least not before 1955.

Did he inherit a large sum of money? Does he have a (very lucrative) side-job besides inventing, considering he must know a thing or two about physics at least?

I'm looking for an in-universe answer, but if none exist, any details or explanation from the writers would be fine.


3 Answers 3


He appears to have inherited it.

When explaining to Marty where the flux capacitor came from

I had a revelation! A vision! A picture in my head! A picture of this! This is what makes time travel possible: the flux capacitor! It's taken me nearly thirty years and my entire family fortune to realize the vision of that day

  • I'm curious, if that family fortune was really necessary to make the first machine, where the hell did he get the funds to make the time-travelling train in the third movie?
    – Kaito Kid
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 18:09
  • @KaitoKid, I think he spent a lot of money researching. Thirty years without job, just using family fortune to work in his projects. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 19:56
  • @KaitoKid My theory is he positioned himself as blacksmith, so had tools and a workshop at his disposal and maybe used his knowledge of 20th century science to build and sell things, eg his 'refrigerator'. God knows the 'grandfather' affects of introducing 20th century technology into 1885, but it's best not to thing about that stuff with time traveling movies.
    – MeltingDog
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 22:29
  • @KaitoKid I imagine anyone who paid attention in school would be able to make money by building modern devices if sent back in time far enough that those devices would be novel and useful, but not so far back that metallurgy and other basic science were not developed enough. I would think that 1885 would be a time where science were advanced enough to make such a proposition feasible.
    – user9311
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 3:05

This was answered on Scifi Stack Exchange

There's evidence that he burnt down the house we see in 1955 for the insurance money and also sold off the family land. This would also explain why his house is surrounded by nature in 1955, and then commercial establishments in 1985.

It's not clear how much of his money was from these events and how much was from a pre-existing fortune (if any).

You can see this in the film.

. Bankrupt inventor sells land


There's a lot of information regarding backstory in the newspaper clippings that cover Doc's walls in the opening credit sequence of the first film. Pretty sure there were clues there as well as Doc's reference to his family fortune. You'll need a big TV though!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .