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We all know how the movies happen at the end of Back to the Future, Part II and the beginning of Part III. Western Union delivers it at some road next to a sign for future housing development. Marty McFly receives the letter dated 70 years prior.

Why would Doc take such a big unnecessary risk? Why not simply order the delivery to his own house at that date in 1955?

It makes sense that Marty would make the logical decision to go back to 35-year-old Doc Brown to help him.

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    Because at that point he still wanted to interfere with the timelines as little as possible – Valorum Jan 7 at 1:16
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    It's a risk but no more than the other option you suggest. Doc knew for certain where Marty would be at that moment and as long as the letter was delivered according to plan he could be sure it would reach Marty. Having the letter delivered to his own house and then hoping Marty would go back there at some point is probably a riskier move. For example if the letter arrived early and 1955 Doc Brown read it before ever meeting Marty then the future could have been radically altered again. – user22478 Jan 7 at 1:21
  • What if the Western Union man decided to arrive early at his delivery destination? – ESP 1138 Feb 6 at 5:14
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Doc Brown wanted to do two things. The first was not to alter anything that he knew had happened in 1955. He does not want to mess with the spacetime continuum any more than necessary, so he arranges to have the message arrive after he is already gone; that way, it cannot contradict anything he has previously experienced.

The second thing was to inform Marty of what had happened as soon as possible. Doc does not know what Marty will do after the DeLorean disappears, so he has the telegram timed to arrive before Marty leaves the scene. Doc also knows that Marty spent the period of the first movie thinking that Doc was dead. This was tremendously painful for Marty, and pushed Marty to do some potentially dangerous things to try to save Doc. So, rather than leave his closest friend hanging and at risk of doing something hazardous, Doc lets Marty know as soon as possible that he is okay and survived the accident.

  • And how does Dr. Brown know that the Western Union man will not arrive early to witness the events of a flying car in 1955? – ESP 1138 Feb 6 at 5:14
  • He doesn't, but he probably banked on them adhering to the explicit instructions. It's a calculated risk. "It was givin to us with explicit instructions that it be delivered to a young man of your description answering to the name of Marty at this exact location, at this exact time" – Longshanks Aug 17 at 18:38

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