The story behind the creation of Back to the Future happened by accident. While on a promotional tour for the film Used Cars, Bob Gale, who would become one of Back to the Future‘s writers and producers, made a stop in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. He decided to visit his parent’s old home and for some reason, wound up flipping through his father’s old yearbooks.
Bob ended up learning that his father was the president of his graduating class. He then started thinking about different scenarios and whether or not he would have been friends with his father back in the day since Bob himself does not consider himself to be the type of person to run for class president.
When he returned to Hollywood, he got together with his friend, Robert Zemeckis, and the two started brainstorming and coming up with ideas for a film. It did not take long before they came up with a story to pitch to Columbia Pictures. Their pitch was given an instant greenlight and the birth of one of the most iconic film trilogies of all time happened.
After working hard at creating a script for the film, the next step was casting. Both Zemeckis and Gale wanted Michael J. Fox from the start but were forced by Universal to use Eric Stoltz, who was fired after six weeks of shooting. When they finally worked out a deal to get Fox, the film was ready to go and the rest is history.
In honor of the massive fan base that Back to the Future has created over the past 30 years, we put together a list of 25 hidden things only super-fans caught.
24 Did He Say Red?
During the original Back to the Future film, Marty McFly returns to Hill Valley in 1985 by crashing into the old movie theater, which is now called Assembly of the Christ. When he gets back, he yells out to a bum that was sleeping on a park bench. He did not yell anything random, he yelled, “Red!”
This was a line that was added by Michael J. Fox during the filming and had very little significance in the overall plot of the film. It did, however, cause a ton of debate by the super-fans who began arguing that this was actually Red Thomas, the city’s mayor.
Bob Gale would later correct this and clarify that this was not Red Thomas, and just an actor playing a bum in the film.
23 The Atomic Kid
The Atomic Kid was a science-fiction comedy film starring the late Mickey Rooney, who played a uranium prospector. He ends up coming across an atomic test site and survives an atomic bomb detonation, gaining super powers in the process.
This film was fitting because it was playing at the cinema in the Town Theater during Marty McFly’s original trip to 1955. It was an Easter egg referencing the original script which involved Marty going to an Atomic test site in search of enough power to get back home.
22 Battle Of The Bands Rockstar Cameo
Besides the fact that Back to the Future has become one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, the movie was also popular because of its’ amazing soundtrack including the film’s theme song, “Power of Love,” by Huey Lewis and the News.
Not long after Mary gets to school, do we get introduced to his band, The Pinheads, who are trying out to perform at the school dance. They are cut short of their audition by an angry man with a megaphone screaming about them being, “too darn loud.” The man who played the angry teacher was none other than Huey Lewis himself.
The song they were playing? It was, of course, “The Power of Love.”
21 Sierra No. 3, Hollywood’s Most Famous Train
Becoming a star in Hollywood can happen to just about anyone, or anything. Many people do not realize that there is a locomotive train called the Sierra No. 3 that has been starring in films since 1897. It is one of the most iconic trains in cinema history and was used in Back to the Future Part III.
The train is destroyed in the end of the film after running off the rails and into a ravine. But fortunately for locomotive fans, that was just a quarter-scale model. The actual Sierra No.3 was only used for shots where the actors were needed in close. There was too much history with the train to destroy it after having been around for nearly 100 years.
20 Who Is Joseph Glidden?
Since we are talking about Back to the Future Part III, let’s stay with the same film for a moment and talk about the scene where Doc goes into the local saloon after having his heart broken and was preparing to drink. He is approached by a random man who tries to help him get through this tough time.
The old man who appears to be just a random character put in place to help carry the scene is actually supposed to be Joseph Glidden, the man who invented barbed wire and turned into one of the richest men in America. He even makes a mention of it by telling Doc, “…peddling this barbed wire across the country.”
19 The (Edward) Van Halen Cassette Tape
Since this film has many memorable scenes, it was very hard to pinpoint the most important ones that most people missed the first time it came out. One of the important scenes was when Marty put together this entire scheme to scare his father George into asking out Lorraine, his mother. Marty dressed up in a hazmat radiation suit and called himself Darth Vader while blasting music on a walkman.
The cassette he used had Edward Van Halen written on it, with the Edward looking as if it was added later and shoved onto the tape. The reason is because Van Halen did not give the film permission to use their music or name, but Eddie Van Halen did. He even created the guitar sound and did not tell anyone until many years after.
18 The Cubs Win The World Series
The most famous prediction the second film ever made was not really missed by anyone. They predicted that the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series in 2015, over a team from Miami, which there was not in 1989. Shortly after the film, the Florida Marlins emerged from Miami and began playing in the MLB.
But what they did miss was how the Chicago Cubs won 97 games in 2015 and lost in the NLCS, one series away from the World Series. They would then go on to win the World Series in 2016. Although the film was off by one year, the fact that they predicted a team that has not won a World Series since 1907 would win one in 2015, a year off the actual results, is pretty impressive.
17 Nixon In The Headlines, Vietnam War Continues…
In Back to the Future Part II, when Doc and Marty return to Hill Valley in 1985 after going into the future to 2015, they return to their homes thinking they are going back to their normal lives. However, when Marty enters through the window of his home, he ends up breaking into someone else’s house and quickly takes off running down the street.
This alternate version of 1985 is a very dangerous place that has completely changed after Biff got the sports-book and took over the town. This new version of Hill Valley was so dark that they even made sure the newspaper headlines were just as dark. In one scene that most people missed, one of the headlines on the newspaper states that Richard Nixon is seeking a fifth term for President while the Vietnam War continues.
16 Predicting Mobile Payments
When Back to the Future Part II first came out, it was November of 1989 and technology was on the verge of a revolution. However, many of the things that we saw in the film were nothing more than a bunch of crazy ideas that the writers came up with just for fun. They had no clue it would change the actual future of technology.
One of the devices most people missed was when Marty makes a remote payment on his credit card by scanning it on a machine. The payment instantly goes through and the film continues. But the idea that we can make payments this way was many years away.
15 The Future Of The McFly Family
Although this has become a very popular Easter egg over time, when the film initially was released, there were not very many people who noticed that the 2015 version of Marty McFly had a daughter that looked eerily similar to Michael J. Fox, who we get to meet when we are introduced to the family. That was because it was Fox, in dressed as his own daughter. He also played himself and his son too.
The other detail people never realized about this scene was that Marty McFly Jr. was a millennial long before that word was ever invented. It was a sad reality that we saw coming back in the late 80s and yet could not stop the children of this world from growing into millennials.
14 Statler Toyota
The first scene of the trilogy is stacked with Easter eggs including a radio commercial for Statler Toyota. It was actually the first line of dialogue in the film franchise. This would be the first, of many, Statler references throughout the films.
The Statler family sold horses back in 1885 before changing into a DeSoto dealership in 1931, a Studebaker dealership in 1955, and finally, a Toyota dealership in 1985. The ranch owned by Mr. Statler was also the place where Doc Brown worked growing up.
13 Selling Out For The Money
Do you know why Steven Spielberg’s net worth is estimated at $3.7 billion dollars?
Because he has always been ten steps ahead of everyone else when it comes to making money. A prime example was how he sold an ad tie-in for E.T. for $1 million dollars to Hershey’s to use their Reese’s Pieces in the film, and it became iconic. They also had several others in place throughout the film. It was not the first time a film used product placement, it was just one of the most obvious times.
He would then kick it up a notch for Back to the Future Part II with several deals in place including one with Pizza Hut that ended up being so lucrative, Pizza Hut sent a pizza designer to the set to make sure their pizza looked perfect.
12 Biff’s Alternate World Has No Clock Tower
No one enjoys watching the alternate universe where Biff has used the sports-book to become a billionaire who owns the town. His version of Hill Valley was so dark, even Marty had trouble avoiding a crime scene that was fresh with two chalk outlines of bodies.
As Marty continues walking through the town, he ends up in the center of town where the old clock tower used to be. However, in this alternate reality, there is no clock tower to enjoy. It is the only time in all the alternate universes where the clock tower does not exist.
11 The Fridge & Nuclear Blast Connection To Indiana Jones
The original idea for the time machine was not a DeLorean. It was actually a refrigerator that needed the power of a nuclear blast to send it into the past. The first scene of the film delivers a memorable newscast where the first mention of a nuclear research facility is mentioned.
The beauty of this reference is that Steven Spielberg would later use it in the fourth Indiana Jones film when Indy finds himself in a house inside a nuclear testing facility. He quickly jumps into the fridge and closes the door, only to be blown away to safety before emerging from the wild ride.
10 Eastwood Ravine
When Doc Brown saves the day in Back to the Future Part III‘s epic conclusion, he crashes the train to help get Marty back to 1985 while remaining in 1885 to be with Clara. As the train is heading towards the end of the track, Doc and Clara escape on his hover board and Marty gets up to speed to be able to get back home. But no one knew that Doc escaped the train.
Earlier in the film, Marty said his name to the people in the town was Clint Eastwood, and it stuck. So when the train crashed, and the town believed that this random man who they had known for maybe a couple weeks, had perished in it, they changed the name from Shonash Ravine to Eastwood Ravine.
9 Marty Never Gets His Drinks
In each of the three Back to the Future movies, Marty orders himself something to drink. This recurring gag happens in the same corner restaurant that was a saloon, diner, and cafe over the course of the three films.
In the first film, he orders a coffee but never gets to drink it. He orders a Pepsi in the second film and ends up fighting Biff instead of being able to drink it. By the time we get to the third film, the drink has turned into an alcoholic beverage when he orders whisky and, again, does not get to enjoy it.
8 Legendary Guitar Player References
Not only was Michael J. Fox a very skilled actor loved by millions of people all over the world, he was also a pretty good guitar player. He is actually the person playing Johnny B. Goode in the movie after having learned it not long before they started filming.
Besides that, one of the things people missed from the famous guitar scene was the many references he gave to legendary guitar players. He honors Eddie Van Halen with the tapping guitar technique he made famous while also playing the guitar behind his head like the great Jimi Hendrix and kicking the amp as only Pete Townshend of AC/DC could do.
7 Jaws 19
In 2015, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Back to the Future film’s release, Universal Pictures decided to make fun of their own classic film, Jaws, by creating a very funny trailer for the fictional film we are teased about when Marty goes into the future in the second film.
The piece that everyone missed from the Jaws 19 scene was that it was directed by Max Spielberg, who just so happens to be the real life son of the original Jaws director, and creator, Steven Spielberg.
6 Doc’s Train Shirt
One of the most missed details in the entire Back to the Future franchise was the shirt Doc Brown was wearing in the beginning in the second film. Since the film was stocked full of information, most people were not paying attention to the details in his yellow button up shirt.
However, upon further examination, you might notice that his shirt is covered in trains that are being chased by men on horses, an easy glimpse into the future of the franchise and the final film’s epic finale.
But it does not stop there. In the third film, Doc goes on to turn that shirt into his bandanna, just in case you were not paying attention.
5 Inside Cafe 80s
The second film in the trilogy, Back to the Future Part II sent Marty McFly into the future, to the year 2015. Although the film was released in 1989, it featured many cool glimpses into the future but one of the coolest moments was when he entered Cafe 80’s, a 1980s themed nostalgia cafe.
The interior of the cafe was covered in things from the 80’s and even featured specific items like the classic arcade game, Pac-Man. If you look up on the wall, it has everything from a Los Angeles Dodgers World Series Champion t-shirt to a poster of the Royal Wedding. They also have old issues of Sports Illustrated, three different electric guitars, a row of famous political masks, some tennis shoes, a sticker wall that includes pennants, and cash.
There are several other items, but it is just too easy to break it down for you. Instead, spend a day going over it, frame by frame, and see how many of the items you can discover.
4 Twin Pines Mall Changes to Lone Pine Mall
If you can recall, the original Back to the Future movie was much darker than the other two sequels. There was even the infamous Libyan scene that took place in the empty parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall. The terrorists showed up looking for Doc, who had stolen their plutonium and replaced it with junk. They wound up shooting him, leading to Marty jumping into the DeLorean and going back to 1955.
In the first film, that scene took place in 1985 at the Twin Pines Mall. But when Marty travels back to 1955, he crashes into Mr. Peabody’s ranch, running over one of his two pine trees that were sitting near his house. The ranch was even named Twin Pines Ranch.
When Marty returns to 1985, he runs past the mall sign and it was now called Lone Pine Mall, a clue of how things are different in this future.
3 Flying Drones
Over 20 years after the release of Back to the Future Part II (1989,) if a consumer wants to purchase a drone or quadcopter for personal use, they just have to go to Best Buy or Amazon.com to find an affordable one that even a four-year old can figure out. They have become a part of mainstream technology and more and more people are starting to buy them for both commercial and consumer uses.
But that has come a long way since we were first introduced to them in the movie. Bob Gale has been asked many times over the years how they came up with the idea and he does not know. He has spoken about how the were trying to figure out ways to add technology to things we used in the late 80s and somehow that came up.
The flying drone used in the film remains one of the best future predictions in the film.
2 Thank You Tom Wilson!
After having spent most of his acting career interviewing about the Back to the Future trilogy, Tom Wilson, who plays the meathead Biff, did something that many people considered unusual at the time but was actually brilliant. He did an interview by typing up a one-page story about some of the behind the scenes details everyone wanted to hear about.
One of the best parts of his entire story was that there was many improvisations made during the filming of the three films. But the biggest revelation was that he improvised two of the best lines in the film. He claims he improvised calling people butthead, as well as “Make like a tree and get out of here.”
1 Opening Scene Foreshadowing
Without knowing much about it, the film presents fans with a massive foreshadowing moment within seconds of the film’s opening scene. Right away, we are shown an impressive amount of clocks in Doc Brown’s house. One of which showed a man hanging from a clock tower. It was silent film star Harold Lloyd and it gives away the ending without anyone ever noticing.
We also get a few other hidden gems including a newspaper article hanging from the wall that explains what happened to Doc Brown’s mansion (It burned down.) Then, on the television, a news report opens up with a story about a nuclear research facility denying the rumors that any plutonium had been stolen from their site. A few seconds later, Marty McFly enters the room and lays down his skateboard, only to watch it roll right underneath a chair, hitting a box of plutonium.