When Marty is about to travel back to 1985 in BTTF 1, he emphasizes that Doc read his letter (about Doc getting shot by Libyan Terrorists during Delorean Test, 1985). However, in BTTF 3, when Marty is back at Doc’s mansion, after Doc just saw Marty one head back to 1985 (from first movie), Marty doesn't try to warn Doc about getting shot. Now you may say he just assumed Doc read his first message, but couldn't he have also thought it possible that Doc only read it because Marty 2 told Doc about it? Also, in BTTF 3, after Marty gets hung by Mad Dog Tannon, Doc asks Marty,

"Marty, what idiot dressed you in those clothes...".

Shouldn't he know that he dressed Marty that way in 1958.


3 Answers 3


I'm not sure I understand the wording of the first part of your question, but Marty found out Doc was wearing a bullet proof vest at the end of part one, so he would have known.

As far as Doc asking Marty "what idiot dressed you like that", this was a version of Doc that had traveled into the past before Marty read about his death.

This version of Doc died, which caused Marty to read about his death, and contact his past self, which ceased to be his past self the moment Marty showed him the story of his death.

Then, Marty's intervention in the past, which involved getting hanged by Buford caused yet another diversion, creating yet another timeline with yet another updated version of Doc.

Based on your comment, I think I now understand the first part of your qeustion. It's been a while since I watched the movies, but I recall that Marty was the one character who had only one version, because he was involved with each change of time. Doc's trip to the 1800's didn't alter Marty's timeline, it just added Doc's death to the history books and created a gravestone for him.

What this means is that at each point in the story, everything the viewer remembers seeing Marty experience, Marty remembers experiencing. Marty found out about Doc's bullet proof vest at the end of part 1, so he knew about it all througout parts 2 and 3.

  • Yes but if Marty knows that Doc ended up reading the letter, but doesn't know when he learned that, then why would he risk not telling him if he knows Doc reads the letter anyway Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 3:40

In theory [if that makes sense here!], YES, Doc in 1885 should have known that he is the one who dressed Marty that way. But consider: Doc in 1955 [sending Marty back to 1885] is thirty years away from the events in BTTF 1&2, hence thirty years away from becoming the Doc in 1885. Thirty years is probably way too long to remember something as trivial as the fact that he chose Marty's wardrobe, let alone that it wasn't really appropriate for 1885 (in fact, he probably wouldn't have realized it wasn't appropriate until he actually saw 1885 clothing).


Marty doesn’t need to warn Doc about the future in BTTF3 because he has already done it, and knows the outcome. He knows that the future changed and Doc had read the letter... so no further action on his part is necessary. It's possible that Doc wasn't ever going to read the letter until Marty showed up again in BTTF3... but that is never explained.

Pertaining to the second question "Shouldn't he know that he dressed Marty that way in 1955*(edited the date)"… Absolutely he should have known. I do not believe that there is some other version of Doc that had traveled into the past before Marty read about his death (like anotherguy claims). No matter how you slice it… the Doc in 1885 is the future version of the 1955 Doc who was told of his death in BTTF3. Doc would have transformed when the past was altered… the past that he had previously lived to get to that point.

“A man shouldn’t know too much about his own destiny…”

This is a recurring statement by Doc in the BTTF movies. At the end of BTTF we learn that he chooses to ignore his own advice and read the letter that Marty wrote him sometime before the events at the Lone Pine mall in 1985. So Doc’s personal life timeline was changed by Marty travelling back to the past. As a result, he wears the bullet proof vest.

The Doc in 1885 is the future version. He is the same Doc that read the letter that saved his life at the mall, and the same Doc that has been warned of his death by seeing the letter from 1885 back in 1955.

As Marty arrives in 1885, the past is transformed around Doc. He has already taken the letter to Western Union when he encounters Marty being hanged but he should also know that he was the “idiot” that dressed Marty in that outfit. He should know just as he knew to wear the bullet proof vest at the mall. He is the continuation of himself. Doc’s memory of past events should be transformed just as the past was transformed.

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