In Back to the Future, when Marty escapes the Libyans using the DeLorean and jumps into 1955, we can see at the end of the movie that the van with the Libyans crashes into the photo booth.

If they remained alive they would keep on chasing Doc and Marty on foot. But that is not the case. We see that Marty-from-the-past and Doc peacefully return to Marty's house.

If the Libyans died then Marty and Doc would become accident witnesses and the police would have a lot of questions for them, including the origin of the plutonium, the suspicious car and the reason why they were at the mall that night. So they would likely hurry up to get out of the mall so the police would not see them. But again, this is not the case. They don't seem to hurry at all and take their time for a little chat about the space-time continuum. Moreover, Doc doesn't even bother to hide his van away from the mall. Instead he uses the DeLorean to take Marty home, leaving his van at the parking lot as evidence.

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    Photo booth...sheesh, how times have changed. Commented May 24, 2017 at 16:00
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    There’s this thing called “being knocked unconscious” that might help explain this. Commented May 24, 2017 at 17:25
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    @PaulD.Waite, yes but they could continue chasing Doc and/or Marty after waking up. They somehow managed to find Doc's location at that night, so they could keep their attempts to kill him. However we don't see any of that in BTTF 2 and 3. Commented May 24, 2017 at 18:43
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    @ChrisB.Behrens: Both weddings I've been to this year had photo booths in them. Didn't feel archaic. Also every shopping centre I've walked through this year has one for passport photos etc. Hardly obsolete! Commented May 25, 2017 at 15:02
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    Nah, not really...if I say "photo booth" today in the U.S., it means what you're thinking. It's just that the meaning of the term has shifted. Commented May 25, 2017 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


The film's novelisation indicates that the Libyans didn't die. They were trapped inside the kiosk (in the crash) and were eventually arrested and taken to jail.

Losing control of their vehicle, the terrorist van driver was forced to swerve into a Fox Photo stand on the edge of the parking lot. The vehicle fell over and landed doorside down, trapping the terrorists inside. In the distance a police siren wailed.

... [a few minutes later]

Marty smiled and shook his head. “What a hypocrite,” he said. “After all that lecturing about screwing up the spacetime continuum…”
“Yeah, well, I figured what the hell…”
Nearby, the police had poured out of their cars and were busily rounding up the terrorists.

Back to the Future - Official Novelisation

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    Interesting, I haven't read the novelisation. But this raises new questions. Why were the terrorists arrested? Because of weapon possessing? They might have had permissions. Because they are foreigners? That's not a crime. Because they crashed into a booth? Well, the brakes might have been broken. Why arrest people without prior questioning them OR at least calling an ambulance to check their medical state? Commented May 24, 2017 at 18:52
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    @User2513149 - It's not immediately clear from the book, but I'd guess that the gunfire, explosions and ramming of a photo kiosk would constitute crimes worthy of arrest. Note that they weren't injured, just trapped.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 18:58
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    Didn't the van have doors on both sides and the rear? How does the van falling over prevent all of them from getting out?
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 22:42
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    @jpmc26 Don’t forget that the police sirens are already heard as they crash into the photo booth. It’s entirely possible that they were only temporarily trapped and would have been able to get out given a few minutes to recover and get their bearings, but the police arrived on the scene too quickly for them to make an escape. Even so, they had an RPG and god knows what other heavy weaponry in that Loaf, and they’re international terrorists—little reason not to simply shoot their way through the measley local police forces that show up with their puny little hand guns… Commented May 25, 2017 at 8:53
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    Note that the novelization is pretty dang far from canon. Commented May 25, 2017 at 9:54

What is seen at the end of the episode (when Marty comes back to the future minutes earlier) could be a likely story for the police:

Two robbers attacked Doc, tried to kill him (and eventually failed), panicked and tried to drive away, but crashed.

The police would have two thugs caught red-handed with a murder attempt (weapons in hand, dozens of shot rounds as evidence). I doubt they knew anything about the plutonium (it was nowhere to be found (consumed by the DeLorean). If the Lybians survived (which they did, see previous answer) and told a crazy story of a teen escaping in a disappearing car, no one would believe them.

Finally, it is unlikely that the police would suspect Doc or Marty of anything illegal. And Doc has a universal explanation for odd questions: "It is a scientific experiment".

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    If one is being realistic, "scientific experiment" is rarely a convincing explanation of anything when the police are involved. (Then again, maybe that was different in the 80s)
    – David Z
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 17:35
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    Doc Brown had a big reputation in town. He was a local celebrity, although excentric. The police would more likely listen to him than some bandits with assault rifles who have just tried to kill a man.
    – TimSparrow
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 17:37
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    But wouldn't the police be interested in why the Libyans tried to kill specifically Doc? They could start digging and questioning him on his recent activities and contacts, thus finding out that Doc agreed to make a bomb for the terrorists. And that is clearly an FBI case. Commented May 24, 2017 at 18:50
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    There was a deleted scene in the first movie where doc needed to bribe the officer, so his "science experiment" excuse wasn't supposed to be so rock solid to begin with.
    – 16807
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 14:39
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    Only one vial of plutonium was consumed by the time machine. The rest was still in the case clearly marked with the radioactive symbol nearby. Doc almost forgets to carry it entirely. See the left side of this video. As soon as he remembers it, he is distracted from loading it by the oncoming Libyans.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 22:58

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