A Friend In Deed

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"A Friend In Deed"

Back to the Future: The Animated Series






Sean Derek, John Loy and John Ludin


September 19, 1992

Episode chronology
Previous episode

"Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!"

Next episode

"Marty McFly PFC"

"A Friend in Deed" is the third episode of the second season of Back to the Future: The Animated Series, and the sixteenth episode overall. It first aired on September 19, 1992.

Brief synopsis

Biff has decided to build a swimming pool, with his son doing all the digging. In the process, a document is unearthed, an unrecorded deed to Thaddeus Tannen for the land that has become the Parker Ranch. The ranch is owned by Jennifer Parker's grandparents, but the 1875 deed shows that the Parkers' ancestor deeded it to Biff's ancestor. Biff and Sheriff Taylor show up at the ranch, where Marty and Jennifer are having lunch with her grandfather and grandmother. Biff announces that he wants to use the acreage for a toxic waste dump. Marty -- who has been playing practical jokes to the ire of the Parkers -- hoverboards away, locates Jules and Verne, and takes the train back to 1875 to find the truth to the matter.

Once there, Marty finds out that the Parkers were swindled out of their property by an outlaw Tannen ancestor. Marty joins the gang of Thaddeus Tannen, hoping to prevent the scheme from happening. Hepzibah (the sister of Thaddeus) tries to marry Marty, but he leaves. Wendell, who had been the owner of the Parker Ranch in 1875, and his wife Genevieve, are kidnapped. Thaddeus has tied Genevieve to the railroad track and won't release her unless a bound and gagged Wendell signs a deed to the ranch. Marty provides the pen for Wendell to sign, but Thaddeus breaks his promise, taking the deed and leaving Genevieve tied to the tracks, while Marty removes the gag from Wendell's mouth and gets him to talk again. As the train approaches, Marty tries desperately to untie the knots, then faces his doom. Fortunately, this particular train happened to reach 88 miles per hour right before impact. Verne arranges for the train to reappear a split second later further down the tracks. Though the Parkers have been rescued and Jules and Verne send Marty back with them to their home turf, Thaddeus Tannen has gotten away, and buries the deed in the secret location where it will be unearthed in 1991. Thaddeus Tannen was about escape until Hepzibah sees Thaddeus getting away and stop him. They are both captured and hauled off to jail by the authorities. Afterward when Marty and the boys head back into the locomotive to their home turf, Marty does not want Biff to tear up and close the Parker ranch. Biff shows Marty the deed, but as it turns out, the pen that Marty had handed to Wendell Parker in 1875 had disappearing ink. Biff tells Biff, Jr. that the $500 cost for hiring a bulldozer is coming out of his allowance, and Marty finally gets kissed by Jennifer after saving the ranch from destruction.

Behind the scenes

  • Biff Tannen, Jr. is introduced in this episode, though not by name. Biff himself calls out "Kids!", although Junior is the only one to actually come out of the house. The other one might be Tiffany.
  • Doc and Clara are not seen in the episode, but are referred to. They have taken the DeLorean so that they can watch a performance of Hamlet -- by the original cast! Historians believe that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet as early as 1599 and no later than 1602.
  • As with "Solar Sailors", there is a Spider-Man reference. Sheriff Taylor (who is himself an homage to another pop culture icon) apologizes to Grandpa Parker, saying "Sorry, Pete." In "Solar Sailors", the 2091 car parking service was called "Peter Park-It". Incidentally, Joshua Keaton has provided the voice of the character in the 2008 cartoon The Spectacular Spider-Man, as well as several video games.
  • Biff's plans for a toxic waste dump is an homage to Part II of the film series, where BiffCo stored toxic waste in 1985-A.
  • Thaddeus Tannen is specifically said in the episode to be Biff's great-great-grand-uncle, making him Buford Tannen's uncle. Biff knows who Thaddeus was, and is confident that there are no other descendants of Thaddeus with whom he would have to share property, implying Thaddeus had no direct descendants himself. Part II and Part III establish that Biff's great-grandfather was Buford Tannen, whom Marty met in 1885.
  • As Grandpa Parker was a police officer and later a detective for the Hill Valley Police Department, he and Sheriff Taylor have probably known each other for years. It's possible that "Pete" is a nickname to disguinish himself from his son, Danny Parker Jr.


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