I believe I've spotted a flaw, and I'd like to know if other fans have noticed it too.

  • In the first BTTF, Marty McFly travels back to 1955 (his parents' high school era).

  • He meets his mother and she has the "hots" for him.

  • He helps his dad, George.

  • And then he goes back to 1985 (his present day) and see's that everything is different, having been affected by his doings in 1955.

  • Surely, as Lorraine and George had their son born (Marty) and he started to grow up, wouldn't they think, "Hang on... He kinda looks like that kid Calvin Klein that we knew back when we were in high school!"

Is that right? Or am I missing something?

DISCLAIMER: I like BTTF, please don't take the following as a general criticism of the movie.

  • 11
    That's one problem. What about the people disappearing from photos and then reappearing? Why should that happen, when the future was not yet decided? And yet Marty continued to remember them all. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Feb 1 '11 at 10:35
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    Way to steal from popular internet videos. cracked.com/… But.... – DampeS8N Feb 1 '11 at 14:17
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    DampeS8N - are you kidding? I've never seen that video before. – benhowdle89 Feb 1 '11 at 14:18
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    This is an obvious question that probably occurs to nearly everyone who sees the film (as it did to me when I first saw it probably ten years ago); rather unnecessary and unjustified to claim that it originates in some video on some website. – ShreevatsaR Feb 4 '11 at 11:42
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    Do you remember everyone that you went to high school with? Especially people you only knew for a few days? That was a large high school, and it's entirely possible that they simply forgot all about Calvin Klein. – FishBasketGordo Apr 12 '12 at 14:59

Personally I can remember what about 4 people look like from high school, and that's because I've seen them since. Obviously people's memory will vary, but it's not without the realms of possibility that they'd forget what he looked like, especially as they wouldn't have a photo of him.

  • 7
    This sounds eminently plausible. +1 – DVK-on-Ahch-To Nov 25 '11 at 23:45
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    Also, Marty was only there for a week. How many faces do you remember of someone who was only around a week? – Michael Itzoe Dec 20 '11 at 20:59
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    Plus, here's this kid you've watched grow up from a newborn. You're really going to look at him one day as if you'd never seen him before, and go, "Hey...."?? – Dan Ray Apr 12 '12 at 17:29
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    @DanRay: Well, Marty's father might get a heck of a nasty shock if he did :P – Standback Apr 19 '12 at 10:09
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    I still remember lots of girls I was infatuated with in high school. Does this make me a loser? :( – Andres F. Aug 15 '12 at 0:17

This issue was addressed in a very early draft of the screenplay...

They all exit, leaving George sitting at his desk. George is thinking about 
something. He opens a desk drawer and pulls out a scrapbook... not an ordinary 
scrapbook... a HYDRAULIC SCRAPBOOK. It says so right on the cover, along with the 
name of the manufacturer: “E. Brown Enterprises.” George plugs it in, and pneumatic
cylinders begin automatically turning the pages. At a particular page, it stops. 
George stares at the newspaper clipping on the page.

A story with the headline, “Police Quell Near Riot At School Dance,” along with a 
photo of the dance that shows Marty on stage!

GEORGE stares at the photo, then shakes his head.

                Nah. Couldn’t be.


But it is....


And, of course, who is to say they DIDN'T notice and comment on it, but we didn't see it? I mean, what would they have said anyway?

Lorraine: (Staring at a young Marty) Wow, Marty! You look just like a highschool friend of ours. (To George) Honey, c'mere! Look at Marty. Doesn't he look like that friend of yours, Kevin?

George: You mean Calvin? Oh yeah, he does! Shame we don't have any photos of him. Honestly, if he hadn't had disappeared all those years ago, I'd have sworn you'd been cheating on me!

Lorraine: Oh, honey! As if I'd cheat on you...

George: I know, dear. (*kiss*) Is Biff done with that car yet?

Remember that Calvin was only around for a few days in 1955, and Marty was born 13 years later. What would YOUR parents say if you resembled a childhood friend they hadn't seen in 30 years?

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    And, of course, who is to say they DIDN'T notice and comment on it... but we just didn't see it? This is the real key here. When Marty returns to the altered present, everyone else has existed in this timeline since the split. It would actually make even less sense if they were to just now finally notice and say something. – phantom42 Jun 6 '14 at 15:27
  • “Can you remember every single person you met 30 years ago? I bet you've forgotten so many!” Sure, but this guy was instrumental in bringing these two together. Although he only knew them for a week, he played a pretty instrumental role in their lives. – Paul D. Waite Jun 6 '14 at 15:36
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    @PaulD.Waite: Remembering behaviour is one thing, a face is something different. I once ran into my high school history teacher after not seeing him for 10 years. I remembered his classes very well, but until I went and talked to him, I really wasn't sure the guy I was looking at was the same person. This was someone I'd seen on a daily basis for five years or so, not a person who vanished after a week; and it was after a gap of only 10 years, not 30. – Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 6 '14 at 16:03
  • @RoyalCanadianBandit: sure, but did your high school history teacher help get you together with your wife? Strong emotion creates strong memories. – Paul D. Waite Jun 6 '14 at 16:22
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    This needs more upvotes – Skooba Aug 25 '16 at 12:49

Its quite possible that Marty's parents and Biff remember Calvin from their high school days. However, Marty doesn't just appear one day, fully grown in the present day. He is born and they see him grow up.

While Marty is growing up, George, Lorraine or even Biff might think to themselves 'Hey, that kid reminds me of the guy in High school' but then they probably dismiss it as putting a current, familiar face on top of an old memory of someone they knew back in high school.

They might even go a little further and think that they have subtly influenced their kid while he was growing up, to be like someone they knew back when they were young.


I'll try and explain everyone's questions in a few paragraphs below. Please excuse any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors for I didn't have time to run it through word by word, or make it to scale, or to paint it: :)

In the BTTF universe, if you travel in time, you remember everything that happened in the original timeline, along with any changes you've made in your travels. That's the way I've always interpreted the film. So when Biff (in BTTF2) travels through time as an adult, he makes his changes, and there’s enough of a delay to allow him to travel back to 2015.

Just as Marty did with his parent's, "TIME" gives you a chance to change things back if needed, especially if it involves almost wiping yourself out completely. I mean, if Marty killed his dad that would be a different story. The filmmakers found two ways around making changes in time; delayed actions (in the case of BTTF 1) or alternative timelines (BTTF 2&3).

Marty only delayed his parents first meeting, and still managed to get them together at the same dance. I mean realistically, Marty was some dude she’d known for a few days that school year. Biff was a bigger part of their lives, having spent a number of years (assumed) in school with them. So it makes sense why she, George or Biff wouldn't remember Marty.


There is one aspect you are missing; although WE see the new incarnations of the parents seeing him for the first time (in a movie sense), in their reality, they have watched him grow from an infant.

Seeing someone over and over, especially as they are growing, will tend to influence your perceptions of them a bit.. they may have eventually noticed the resemblance, but there is never the sudden change that the audience sees to draw attention to it. Sure; he looks like 'Calvin' from their teenage years.. But that's just now, and they have been looking at him since he was a baby; it's unlikely they would make more than a cursory connection.


This was addressed by BTTF writer Bob Gale in a recent interview. In short, his parents only knew 'Calvin' for a very brief time and that over the years their recollections of him would naturally become hazy.

"Bear in mind that George and Lorraine only knew Marty/Calvin for eight days when they were 17, and they did not even see him every one of those eight days. So, many years later, they still might remember that interesting kid who got them together on their first date."

He continued, "But I would ask anyone to think back on their own high school days and ask themselves how well they remember a kid who might have been at their school for even a semester. Or someone you went out with just one time. If you had no photo reference, after 25 years, you'd probably have just a hazy recollection."

Concluded Gale, "So Lorraine and George might think it funny that they once actually met someone named Calvin Klein, and even if they thought their son at age 16 or 17 had some resemblance to him, it wouldn't be a big deal. I'd bet most of us could look thru our high school yearbooks and find photos of our teen-aged classmates that bear some resemblance to our children."

'Back to the Future' Screenwriter Closes Plot Hole Amid Renewed Debate

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