In the first movie of the Back to the Future trilogy, when Marty comes back from the "Enchantment under the Sea" to get sent back to the future by Doc, he tells Doc that his father stood up for himself and punched Biff, and that he had never done this before.

To which Doc replies "Never?" while looking at the photo of the three McFly kids.

Marty: He laid out Biff in one punch. I never knew he had it in him. He never stood up to Biff in his life.

Doc: Never?

Marty: No, why, what's a matter?

Why is it hard for Doc to believe it? Is it because he looks at the picture, and sees Linda McFly looking a little shorter and chubbier than the two other kids, that he assumes Biff raped Lorraine?

This theory claims something somewhat similar, but I think maybe even the way things happen in the first film, that Biff might have had time to impregnate Lorraine.

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    He's concerned, because it suggests that Marty's actions have changed the timeline, as indeed they did. Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 3:44
  • Maybe he was testing Marty to see if he shared his love of Gilbert and Sullivan: Marty: He's never stood up to Biff in his life! Doc: What, never? Marty: No, never. Doc, What, never? Marty: Well, hardly ever... </joke>
    – Wallnut
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 8:33

3 Answers 3


Because if it never happened in Marty's experience, then Marty didn't completely fix the timeline.

Doc was envisioning what might have happened to the timeline now due to Marty's interference. He wouldn't know exactly, not knowing Marty as well as Doc would in 1985, but he'd know something was up. George would now be a different person, and make different choices, and that could thrown any number of variables out of whack.

After a moment's consideration though, since he's looking at the restored photo, I imagine his brain simply goes, "Close enough." Marty's not going to disappear again, and any future he gets back to he's just going to have to deal with. They have a lightning storm to catch, and nothing more can be done about 1985 with the time they have.

  • "Close enough" like Homer's when his family all have forked tongues. Right?
    – releseabe
    Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 20:59

Although Radhil's answer is right - that the Doc was mulling over the possibility that they may have dramatically altered the future (despite them trying to set it back to normal), I would just like to add

It also serves to highlight to us, the audience, that this was significant, so we would know what was going on when Marty returned to the present and his family was so much happier and more successful.

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    Foreshadowing. The term is foreshadowing. Commented Apr 8, 2019 at 22:16

Or how about this isn’t 1955 doc’s first encounter with Marty? He may have arrived at Doc’s door on earlier dates perhaps a number of times before. Doc has to play out each encounter as if its the first time its happening in order to not overwhelm Marty. Eg. Doc wears the bullet proof vest and lets the Lybians shoot him in order to make sure Marty goes to 1955 thinking the Doc was killed Going back to my theory the Marty we first meet comes from the reality where George has “never” stood up to Biff.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. Do note however that we much prefer answers that are based on citable evidence to answers that are essentially just a fan theory, which is what this appears to be. Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 20:49
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    Also, this answer doesn't really explain why Doc Brown said "Never?" in response to Marty's statement. Even if your theory were true, it doesn't automatically follow that he'd react in that particular way. There are other things he could've said there, so why choose that word? It seems like you just wanted to talk about your theory, rather than answer the question that this thread is based on. Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 20:59

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