Towards the end of BTTF, we see Doc Brown be approached by a police officer. Doc explains that he's doing a weather experiment as he's wiring up the two light posts. Later that night the clock tower gets struck by lightning and stops working.

Was Doc ever blamed for or suspected of breaking the clock?

There's a least one witness who saw him (a cop to boot) in the area doing something for science, and then all of a sudden, ZAP, no more clock. Seems like he'd be the first suspect if anyone started investigating. Was this ever addressed?

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    Well, he did have a Permit for the experiment. More importantly, what was the Weather Experiment Permit that he pulled out of his wallet and gave to the cop? A five-dollar bill? If he did pay the cop to look the other way, the cop would not have ratted him out. Jun 6, 2017 at 21:01
  • you seem to be asserting that some city official could be made to believe that Doc's experiment somehow caused the lightning storm or that it caused the lightning to strike at that particular location. Try as I might, I can't imagine a situation in which someone would believe such a thing.
    – Paul L
    Jun 9, 2017 at 19:38
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    @HannoverFist Since we're not shown what type of permit he gives the cop, we can't automatically assume he paid him off. Knowing Doc, he could have very well wrote up a very convincing forgery of the needed paperwork. Jun 9, 2017 at 19:57
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    @PaulL I'm not sure if he put the rod there himself, but his experiment could be perceived as the source of the damage. Again, think with a 1950's mentality. Jun 9, 2017 at 19:58
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    @DCOPTimDowd the deleted scene from that part of the film depicts Brown paying off (clearly with cash) the cop, who then asks, “You’re...not gonna set anything on fire this time are you, Emmet?” To which Doc replies “nah” with a grin as the officer walks on. It also suggests people in Hill Valley know Doc’s a crazy inventor who pulls crazy stunt tests with his inventions and apparently caused a small fire the last time. Feb 22, 2021 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


As a result of Doc's "experiment", the clock tower was saved in altered 1985. The lightning struck the wire and was drained into DeLorean's flux capacitor. Marty finds this out arriving to the timeline where his father is a successful writer and Lorraine is no longer a fat drunk.

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    What's the source for this? Jun 6, 2017 at 18:17
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    The movie. In 1985, after safe return from 1955, Marty finds the clock tower undamaged.
    – TimSparrow
    Jun 6, 2017 at 18:18
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    How can you tell? We only see it for a few seconds at night, with no real comparison from earlier in the movie. Jun 6, 2017 at 18:20
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    There's nothing in the novel about the clock being fixed. Also, the clock's hands are set to the same time they froze at before.
    – Valorum
    Jun 6, 2017 at 18:54
  • I thought I remembered this as well, that by Doc sending Marty back, it prevented the Clock from being destroyed. Doesn't the Save The Clocktower handout change or something?
    – Broklynite
    Jun 7, 2017 at 9:27

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