Back to the Future Day observes Oct. 21 2015, the day Marty McFly and Doc Brown travelled to the future. In Back to the Future Part II, Doc Brown, who is in the future, travels back to 1985 to take Marty to 2015 to save his son from disaster, but things go awry—future Biff, Marty’s antagonist, sees Marty and Doc in the time machine in 2015 and uses it to travel to 1955, giving Marty’s 1950-2000 sports almanac to his younger self. Marty must travel back to 1955 to steal back the almanac and restore the old timeline.
Oct. 21 2015 was a highly anticipated event: there were parties across the world, replica Café 80s and enchantment under the sea dances, and, of course, Back to the Future Part II viewings across theaters.
The day spawned a huge discussion: did the “actual” 2015 resemble Doc and Marty’s 2015? Did Back to the Future II’s predictions come true? Marty McFly time-travelled to what looked like a futurized version of the 90s, with wild clothing and advanced technology. 2015 didn’t see hoverboards, flying cars, or dehydrated Pizza Hut pizzas to rehydrate in personal rehydraters, but some of the film’s predictions came true; Back to the Future II was just one year early in predicting the season the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series and end its long-standing 107-year championship drought. It also predicted video-chatting and biometric technology.
So, overall, Marty and Doc’s 2015 somewhat resembled ours. As Marty McFly would say: “that’s heavy.”
The Back to the Future trilogy is a pop culture cornerstone and is widely believed to be the best time-travel movie ever made.
But when was time-travel invented—at least in fiction?
The Time Machine by H. G Wells is widely credited for popularizing the idea of time-travel; however, The Anacronopete by Enrique Gaspar y Rimbau, which was published roughly sixty years earlier in 1887, is credited as the first novel to use a time-travelling machine to intentionally travel in time, predating Wells.
But time-travel, at least in its supernatural form, dates to even earlier novels. One example is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which was published in 1843; it has the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who visit Ebenezer Scrooge. In Rip Van Wrinkle by Washington Irving, published in 1819, Rip Van Wrinkle falls asleep in the woods after accepting a drink from a strange group in the woods, waking up twenty years later to the “future.”
How Back to the Future Day Unites People
Although Back to the Future’s future is now past, you can still time-travel with Doc and Marty:
Watch Back to the Future Part II with friends or family and see the film’s future predictions and see if you can keep straight the different timelines, pasts, futures, and presents.
Go retro. Dig up some old clothes from the 80s or 90s or early 2000s. Or try hunting for throw-back outfits at a local thrift store.
See if there’s a “Café 80s” near you; play old arcade games and drink a glass of milk, chocolate, like Marty’s dad George McFly.
Now “make like a tree and get out of here” and celebrate Back to the Future Day.