When a motion picture is shown for all audiences, such as on broadcast television, or on an airplane flight (where children might be present), the film may be edited to remove dialogue, sound effects, or images that might be deemed offensive, extensive, or unnecessary.
Edited dialogue in Part I
Before the introduction of the process of looping, "clean" versions of certain scenes were shot during filming for use on television or airline prints. As well as removing profanity, these versions often used different camera angles. These days, with looping, the film actors redub lines that include profanity or might be offensive, and a "clean" version has been shown on television for nearly twenty years. Although words like 'damn', 'hell', and 'bastards' were tame enough by the late 1980s, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and the other players re-recorded some of their lines for redubbing, but the original movie footage remained intact.
Among the lines that were redubbed:
- (Radio Spokesman): "Statler (Toyota) is making the best deals of the year on all 1985 model (Toyota)s." ("Toyota" is cut from the ad but not blurred on the banner on the side of the truck.)
- On the television in Doc's lab they cut out " A Libyan terrorist group had claimed responsibility for the alleged theft. However, officials now attribute the discrepancy to a simple clerical error."
- (Marty): Geez, I'm starting to sound like my old man. (instead of "Jesus")
- Jennifer's grandmother phone number is changed to 555-0123 instead of 555-4823.
- Dave: Damn it. I'm late. (instead of "Goddamn it")
- George's line at the dinner table is shortened: "What, Lorraine?" (instead of "What, Lorraine? What?")
- Lorraine's line, "Anyway, your grandpa hit him with the car and bought him into the house. He seemed so helpless, like a little lost puppy. And my heart just went out to him," is shortened to "He seemed so helpless, like a little lost puppy. And my heart just went out to him."
- (Doc): "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're going to see some serious stuff" (instead of "shit")
- (Marty): "Geez Louise! Geez Louise, Doc, you disintegrated Einstein!!" (Instead of "Jesus Christ".)
- (Marty, when he sees the Libyan terrorists): "Holy jeez"! (Instead of "shit".)
- Marty before time traveling: "Holy jeez! Alright, let's see if you bastards can do 90." (Instead of "shit".)
- Marty after Doc actually invented something that works: "Yeah it works" (Instead of "Bet your ass it works".).
- (Biff's gang, before crashing into the manure truck): "Aaaaaa!" (Instead of "Shiiiiit!".)
- (Biff, after crashing into the manure truck): "I'm gonna get that stinkin' punk!" (Instead of "son of a bitch".)
- (Marty): "Yes, definitely, damn it, George, swear!" (Instead of "goddammit".)
- (Marty reading his letter): Dear Dr Brown, on the night I go back in time you'll be shot. Please, please take ...." (The words 'by terrorists' are not spoken, and have been digitally erased from the letter when it is seen on-screen.)
- It is likely that the line wasn't redubbed and instead, the first "please" was played twice.
- (Biff, grabbing Marty): "You caused 300 bucks worth of damage to my car, you son of a butthead, and I'm gonna take it out of your hide." (Instead of "son of a bitch" and "ass".)
- In 3-D's line, "Beat it, spook. This don't concern you," the word 'spook' is muted. In Marvin Berry's response ("Who you callin' spook, peckerwood?"), 'spook' is also muted or the response is taken out entirely.
- (Marty): "What happens to us in the future, do we become like jerks or something?" (Instead of "assholes".)
Edited dialogue in Parts II and III
- (Marty): "What happens to us in the future, do we become jerks or something?" (Instead of "assholes".)
- The scene of Wild Gunman gameplay is omitted, so that it appears as if the kids are judging Marty before playing the game.
- (Griff's gang member, to Marty Jr.): "What's wrong, McFly, you got no scrote?" (Line is edited out entirely.)
- After Griff and his gang members crash into the windows of the clock tower courthouse mall, Marty's line, "Holy shit!", is edited out.
- Mr. Strickland to Marty: "So you're the stinking punk who keeps stealing my newspapers". (Instead of "son of a bitch".)
- Mr. Strickland says, "Now you have three seconds to get off my porch with your guts intact". (Instead of "nuts".)
- Biff in 1985A :"All the money in the world wouldn't do jack for that lazy bum". (Instead of "jack-shit")
- Marty runs toward Biff and yells "You son of a bitch!" ("bitch" is muted)
- Biff in 1985A: "You're dead, you little snot nosed brat!" (instead of "little son of a bitch")
- Marty after Doc explains the Alternate reality: "Holy jeez!" (Instead of "Holy shit!".)
- Biff: "That's bullcrap, Terry!" Terry: "No, Biff, it was horsecrap!" (Instead of "bullshit" and "horseshit".)
- After Marty flies away from Biff Tannen in 1955, Biff sees the manure too late and screams "Aaaaaaaa!!" before crashing his car into the manure truck. (Instead of "Shiiiiiii-".)
- Marty: It's the calvary! (instead of "shit")
- Levi's line, "Shit!" when Marty is dancing is muted.
- Marty before telling Doc the story: "Holy shoot, hey Doc!" (Instead of "Holy shit".)
- Marty in the Palace Saloon: "He's an idiot!" (instead of "asshole".)
- When Buford is arrested, Marshal James Strickland's deputy tells someone to "Get him out of that stuff". (Instead of "shit".)
- Marty before jumping out of the DeLorean: "Oh shoot!" (Instead of "Oh shit!")
- Marty to Jennifer: I'm not stupid enough to race that butthead (Instead of "Do you think I'm stupid enough to race that asshole?")
After the events of September 11th, 2001, nearly every television broadcast of Back to the Future has the entire "Escape To The Past" scene in the beginning abridged quite heavily, resulting in discontinuous background music. Omitting the scene of Doc being shot (the sound effect is heard in the next scene), and any Libyan face shots or dialogue, the entire sequence is about 40 seconds, rather than three to five minutes as in the film. When Marty gets into the Delorean and sees Doc on the ground, you can still here the Libyan bus breaking down. Curiously though, at the end where Marty returns to see himself at the mall, it is shown in its entirety. In AMC's trilogy marathon "Can't get enough Back to the Future" for New Years, the Libyan chase and Doc's death sequences are unedited. The only edits that are made by the censor are "shit" and "C'mon move Dammit, Jesus!" Marty's letter now reads "by terrorists" and he says it. The morning newscast is also left unedited.
Another reason the film may be edited for television is to allow time for commercials. Back to the Future runs for 117 minutes (1 hour, 57 minutes), just three minutes short of a two-hour time slot, but more than just three minutes is usually needed for the commercials that provided the financial support for the film to be shown on television.
Scenes that have been cut to allow time for commercials include the following:
Back to the Future
- Doc waking Marty to remind him to bring his video camera.
- Marty's line to George, "Remember that girl I introduced you to, Lorraine?"
- Marty tries to tell Doc about his future just before he writes the letter.
- Lorraine drinking and smoking in the car.
- The closing credits.
Back to the Future Part II
- Marty goes inside the antique store to buy the sports alamanc.
- The closing credits.
Back to the Future Part III
- Doc and Marty turns the DeLorean into a stagecoach to try and get it to 88 m.p.h.
- Marty wakes up and practices shooting a gun at Tannen in front of a mirror.
- The closing credits.