- " "If only I don't die of a heart attack or a stroke first," Dr. Emmett Brown muttered aloud. / He was close to seeing his dream become a reality. No doubt about that. One by one the scientific and physical obstacles had been eliminated. Was this to be "the day"? / "Don't count on it," he replied to himself. There was no use getting too high, he reasoned. / At sixty-five, he was one of the nation's most talented and unheralded inventors. In fact no one except Marty McFly even knew of his accomplishments, but that didn't matter. Soon all that would change. His lifetime of struggle, of being the recipient of ridicule, would suddenly turn golden. "
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 25)
- "Great Scott!"
- —Doc Brown's famous exclamation
All that is certain about Emmett Brown's ancestry is that his father's side of the family arrived in Hill Valley in 1908, and were known as the Von Brauns, and they changed their name to Brown during World War I.
Doc had an uncle Oliver who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and young Emmett would go to visit him in the summer. In 1926, Emmett fell into a river and developed a fear of fishing. His sons Jules and Verne discovered about this fear after asking their father to go to the Father-Son Big Mouth Bass-Off and traveled, together with Marty McFly, to 1926. They prevented the fishing accident but created another problem, when Emmett cast his line, it got caught on a low flying stunt biplane. When the pilot landed, Emmett was heralded as "Daredevil Brown". Emmett then became very famous doing crazy stunts around the country, inspiring his pilot, Charles Lindbergh, to attempt a flight across the Atlantic.
When he arrived in Hollywood, movie producer D.W. Tannen proposed a very dangerous stunt, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, but promised that a dummy would take Emmett's place. In reality, Tannen planned on keeping Emmett in the barrel for the "realistic" look. Verne saved his father by taking his place in the barrel and using a handheld portable flux capacitor, he teleported together with the falling barrel when it reached a speed of eighty-eight miles per hour.
Afterwards, Doc returned home to pursue the life of science he was supposed to have, but this time without his fear of fishing.
At age 11, Doc discovered the works of his favorite author, Jules Verne. From that point, he decided to dedicate his life to science. About a year later, Doc tried digging to the center of the Earth, inspired by the 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
In his youth, Emmett played sandlot football, gaining the nickname "The Streak" due to his quick reflexes.
Making a friend
On June 13, 1931, he met a young man (in reality his future friend, Marty McFly) who claimed to be from the Washington D.C. patent office. Initially wary of the stranger, he opened up to him after the man helped him solve Ivanov's conundrum. After explaining to the young man that he had to deliver a subpoena to Arthur McFly and required 190 proof grain alcohol as fuel for his rocket-powered drill, the two set out to accomplish these objectives.
First, they managed to acquire alcohol by switching it with the soup at the Sisters of Mercy Soup Kitchen (which was run by Irving "Kid" Tannen) and having Edna Strickland deliver it to Emmett's house by allowing her to host the next meeting of the Stay Sober Society there. Then they managed to steal Arthur McFly's hat from Kid Tannen and had Einstein sniff it and managed to track down Arthur McFly and handed him the subpoena. Afterwards, Emmett had a brief encounter with a future version of the stranger (who had traveled back in time to save Arthur McFly).
By nightfall, Emmett and his friend began working on completing the rocket drill until they were interrupted by Emmett's father, who demanded that Emmett explained the Stay Sober Society's presence. Deciding to distract his father, Emmett started an argument with him regarding Emmett's future career, providing his friend clues on how to complete the rocket drill by emphasising certain words during the argument. After the rocket drill was completed, Emmett quickly ended the argument with his father and asked the young man when he could expect a response from the patent office. However, the young man then revealed the truth about not being from the patent office and said that he required the rocket drill in order to help a friend. Prior to leaving, the young man apoligized to Emmett for deceiving him and told him that he would be a great inventor. Forgiving the young man, Emmett instructed him that he should keep the rocket drill's throttle at about eight before the young man left.
"Single-handedly" capturing Kid Tannen
In the months that followed, Emmett became a fully realized inventor and was working on creating a rocket car for his demonstration at the Hill Valley Expo using Einstein, who was accidentally left behind, as a test subject.
On August 25, Emmett encountered his friend once again and demonstrated his rocket car to him. However, Emmett quickly lost control of the car, which ended up stranding Einstein on the roof of the Courthouse and then crashed into a bill board on another building.
Shortly afterwards, Edna Strickland (who had come to dislike Emmett following the incident with Stay Sober Society) came to him and referred to his rocket car as a public hazzard and mocked the very idea of flying vehicles. During their argument, Emmett's future self saved Einstein from the roof, which left Emmett wondering how Einstein managed to come down.
With Einstein safe, Emmett turned his attention to his rocket car and climbed on to the roof in order to figure out how to bring it down. After pulling the car out of the bill board and repairing it, Emmett was taken hostage by Kid Tannen, who had fled to the roof in order to escape the police. However, Emmett managed to disarm Kid after his friend managed to distract him. In a rage, Kid pushed Emmett off of the building. Fortunately, Emmett managed to grab hold of a ledge.
Emmett's rocket car was subsequently utilized by his friend who, along with the help of suspected arsonist "Carl Sagan", managed to apprehend Kid Tannen, who was then arrested by Danny Parker. Afterwards, Emmett was approached by Edna, who apologized for what she had said earlier. Though flattered by her apology, Emmett admitted that his rocket car was indeed a failure and that he needed a new idea, to which Edna replied that she had a few suggestions. The two then walked off towards the theatre to watch Frankenstein, though they never entered due to Edna's disinterest in the movie, and started dating shortly afterwards.
A Match Made in Heaven?
Two months later, Emmett and Edna, then in a heavily romantic relationship, began collaborating on a "revolutionary" new invention for Emmett's display at the Hill Valley Expo, the Mental-Alignment Meter, which is designed to measure a person's likes and dislikes in order to gauge their mental condition (with Emmett himself being measured as a "Model Citizen"), when Emmett's friend reappears again while Emmett is visiting the barber shop. The stranger later visits Emmett as he is working out the bugs in the MAM, who doesn't know that he is attempting to sabotage his relationship with Edna by rigging his Mind Map to portray him as a degenerate. While the friend is there, Emmett contemplates proposing to Edna after mentioning Edna's grandfather James Strickland, but upon protest by the stranger, decides to wait until the Hill Valley Expo because it will be "more romantic" that way. However, once there, it was one disaster after another; his portable stain remover had mysteriously aged several hours, ruining the white suit Edna had given him when he tried to remove a sludge spot, local actress/singer Trixie Trotter faked being in an adulterous relationship with him in front of Edna, and when Edna confronted him about ruining her grandfather's wedding suit and having an affair with Trixie, Emmett tried to defend himself with his Mind Map card, only to discover that it now rated him as a Degenerate Criminal instead of a Model Citizen. Livid, Edna slapped him and told him she never wanted to see him again, which emotionally devastated Emmett. Later, Emmett's friend found him sitting on top of the Hill Valley Courthouse and tried to cheer him up, but Emmett stated he is beyond caring about anyone or anything anymore. When the friend told Emmett that he cares about him, Emmett suddenly became furious, blaming him for all of his recent problems, which caused his friend to get annoyed and reveal that he had once again lied about who he was, that his real name was Marty, and that Emmett was a delusional dreamer with no guts to follow any of those dreams. Fed up with being told how to live his life, Emmett declared that he would only follow his own advice and his own ideas from then on. When a lightning bolt from a thunderstorm crashed in the distance, Emmett suddenly had an epiphany about the rocket car: the secret to making it fly wasn't rockets, but static electricity! Giddy with excitement over his new idea, Emmett was prepared to go home and begin making the modifications when the Courthouse facade gave way under his feet, causing him to fall off the clock tower and become entangled in a rope and pulley system that had been used to hoist up a pair of dog statues adorning the clock. Marty managed to save him using the portable stain remover and some Tarzan-like ingenuity, after apologizing to Emmett and agreeing to help finish the new Electrokinetic Levitator in time for the Expo.
Destiny RevealedOn the day that Emmett was supposed to fly the Levitator, he was approached by Edna, who ordered him to shut the experiment down, to which he refused. Later, he was approached by "Carl Sagan", who claimed to be a scientist and had a business proposal for Emmett, which would have meant leaving the Expo, so he refused before being chloroformed and dumped into Professor Jacques Douteux's bathysphere, whilst the real Douteux was replaced by Sagan. Marty, who had distracted Edna from shutting Emmett's booth by revealing her as the arsonist of Kid Tannen's original speakeasy, later retrieved Emmett from the bathysphere after threatening to suffocate him by squashing the air hose leading into the bathysphere, leading to "Douteux" giving in and letting him out before fleeing the scene. Emmett went directly to his booth and began installing the final component of the Levitator, and was ready to fly when he was interrupted by the arrival of his father, who demanded that Emmett cease the demonstration, believing it to be dangerous and foolhardy. With some help from Marty, Emmett and his father patched things up and Emmett successfully launched the Electrokinetic Levitator, to the delight of the Expo. Unfortunately, a flaw in the design caused the static currents to interfere with the steering device, causing a devastating crash that caused Emmett to be banned from the Expo for the next five decades. (It is presumed he crashed into the nearby House of Glass exhibit, because he later mentions to Marty that he shouldn't reenter the main hall until all of the broken glass is swept up.)
After making his way out of the crash site, Emmett found Marty out in the parking lot, looking rather sullen. When he asked what's wrong, Marty told him it's got nothing to do with him. When pressed further, Marty gave Emmett a folded piece of paper, ordering him not to look at it until he got the Key to the City. Initially confused, Emmett agreed and bade his friend farewell. Unfazed by the disaster of the Levitator, Emmett became even more devoted than ever to pursuing his dreams as a great scientist.
Post YouthDuring the 1950s, Doc worked as a professor of physics at Hill Valley University. Interestingly, a first draft of the third film said that Doc once dated a woman named Jill Wooster, the Dean's daughter. From Doc we learn that she apparently liked Jules Verne and they both went to Pismo Beach. One day Dean Wooster and his cohorts Cooper and Mintz told him that he must participate in one of three projects: the Edsel car, chemical warfare, or Xerox (which Doc pronounced "X-rox"). Doc however had no interest in any of them and refused to do so. The Dean threatened that his relationship with his daughter would be damaged unless he cooperated with them. The next day, Jill tells him to do it for her, but Doc still refused. Jill then angrily walked out of his life, adding that she never liked Jules Verne. Heartbroken after realizing Jill was just using him to work for the Dean, Doc trashed all his photos of himself with Jill.
Doc's family had amassed a large fortune that Doc had inherited by the 1950s. It allowed him to finance his projects and afford his lavish mansion on Riverside Drive.
Birth of a time machine
On November 5, 1955, Doc came up with the idea of the flux capacitor (which is what made time travel possible) after slipping off his toilet while standing on it to hang a clock and hitting his head on the edge of the sink. Doc invented the brain-wave analyzer sometime before he created the flux capacitor, and tested it on Marty McFly the same day. The idea came to him in a vision he had after being knocked out. The time machine project suffered a setback on August 1, 1962 when Doc's mansion at 1640 Riverside Drive burnt down. After the fire, Doc moved into his former garage (which had been detached from the mansion and as such had survived the fire). There were rumors that he had deliberately burnt it down to claim the insurance money to fund the time machine. Whether or not that was the case, Doc still had to use up most of his family's fortune to fund the creation of his time machine. Doc moved to his garage and sold the rest of his estate to developers, but he was soon back on track. On May 23, 1983, he was commended and won an award for unspecified reasons.
When Marty was either 13 or 14, circa 1982, Emmett found that he had snuck into his laboratory. Seeing how Marty found him not to be the mad scientist that others were claiming, gave him a part-time job to look after the lab, as his lab assistant and feed his dog Einstein.
Doc finally finished installing his time machine into a DeLorean sports car in 1985, using plutonium to power it, and was killed by a group of Libyan terrorists who had given it to him. The Libyan deal was that they had wanted him to make them a nuclear bomb. Doc had made a fake (non-functioning) one out of used pinball machine parts and kept the plutonium for the time machine. Doc's overconfidence would prove to be his undoing as he said the Libyans were too dumb to discover they were duped. Presumably the Libyans attempted to detonate Doc's bomb for a terrorist act, and when it was a dud they realized the truth.
Fortunately, Marty, who had witnessed the first time travel experiment, was accidentally sent back to 1955, where he tried to warn the 1955 version of Doc about the terrorists. Over the course of the week, Doc posed at Marty's uncle and avoided any discussions with Marty about his own future. Just minutes before the Hill Valley Thunderstorm reached downtown on November 12, 1955, he came across the warning letter Marty had written him. Doc ripped it up just as lightning struck down a tree on top of the cable. Then Marty tried to shout it to Doc when he was on top of the tower but then the bell rang so Doc told him to get in the time machine. After a race to reconnect the cable, Doc successfully sent Marty back to the future by harnessing the energy from a bolt of lightning as it struck the Hill Valley Courthouse's clock tower at 10:04pm. Sometime after these events, Doc decided to take the risk, taped together Marty's warning letter and discovered the truth about that night in 1985. When 1985 rolled around again, Doc wore a bulletproof vest for protection.
After dropping Marty home, Doc went 30 years into the future. While it is known that he visited October 21st, 2015, it is not known exactly how long or during which days he was there for. While there, he got an "all natural overhaul" to his body which added 30 or 40 years to his life, and made him look younger. He also got the DeLorean hover-converted, and installed a "Mr. Fusion". The Mr. Fusion reactor eliminated the need for plutonium, and allowed the time machine to operate off of ordinary household garbage. Afterwards, Doc returned to 1985 to pick up Marty (and Jennifer, who happened to be there) to take them to 2015.
Changing the future
Doc had discovered that Marty's son, Marty Jr., was to go to jail for committing a crime by accompanying Griff Tannen, an event which would end up destroying the McFly family. Doc devised a plan for Marty to pose as Marty Jr (since the father-son resemblance was uncanny), as well as to prevent the crime from occurring. Unfortunately, Doc failed to realize that since he used the sleep inducer in Jennifer, there wasn't enough power to knock out Marty Jr. for a full hour, thus complicating the plan. Nonetheless, Marty is able to improvise, causing Griff and his gang to crash into the Hill Valley Courthouse. The changes to the timeline became apparent as the newspaper displaying tomorrow's article changed from Marty Jr.'s arrest to Griff's.
As they prepared to go back to 1985, Doc then discovered that Marty had bought a sports almanac to take back to 1985 with him. Doc lectured Marty about abusing time travel for financial gain. But before he could adequately dispose of the almanac, they spotted two female police officers discovering an unconscious Jennifer. By analyzing her thumbprint, which didn't change over the years, they simply assume her to be the Jennifer of 2015. Doc devised a plan to get Jennifer after she is dropped off at her future home. But he then feared that if she ran into her future self, then she'd either faint from shock or cause a paradox that would destroy the universe. Unknown to Doc or Marty, Biff Tannen overheard the conversation and later stole the DeLorean and the Almanac while Doc and Marty were rescuing the Jennifer from 1985 from the future McFly family house in Hilldale, an housing estate. As expected, when both Jennifers encountered each other, they both fainted from shock. As they carried the unconscious 1985 Jennifer back to the DeLorean, Doc declares that when they get back to 1985, he'll destroy the time machine, seeing as it's brought nothing but disaster and misfortune. That way, he can focus on the other mystery of the universe: women. Doc even regretted that he would never fulfill his dream to see the Wild West. Ironically, both dreams would be fulfilled once Doc was accidentally sent back in time a few days later..
Doc, Marty and Jennifer arrived back in 1985 only to discover that history had been altered. To make sense out of all the madness, Doc went to the local library, which was boarded up and shut down, and 'borrowed' some newspapers. As he deduced, Biff had taken the time machine and given the sports almanac to his younger self somewhere in the past, who then became a millionaire by placing bets on the chronicled sporting events. As a result, Biff's wealth had led to a total alteration of Hill Valley to Biff's wishes and supposed alterations to the entire world's history (such as Richard Nixon still being in office and the Vietnam War still being fought in 1985). In this version of history, Doc has been committed to a psychiatric ward since 1983 (he was committed on the same day he won his award in the "proper" history). Assuming that this would also prevent Doc Brown from building the DeLorean Time Machine, this would also be an example of a Grandfather Paradox. Biff also married Marty's mother Lorraine in a sham marriage after Biff killed Marty's father George McFly, of which Biff was never convicted due to corruption in Hill Valley's police force (where Biff literally "owned" the police due to his wealth and/or powerful influence).
Doc perceived this alternate reality as proof how time travel can be abused and why the time machine had to be destroyed, after they corrected the timeline. Marty suggested that they go back to the future to stop 2015 Biff from stealing the time machine, but Doc shot down that plan, for they'd only be going into the future of this reality. After Marty is able to discern that 2015 Biff went back to November 12, 1955, the same day he returned to 1985, Doc commented that date either has some cosmic significance for the whole time-space continuum or an amazing coincidence. Doc and Marty headed back to 1955 to correct the timeline, and while Marty tracked down Biff to get the almanac from him, Doc attempted to make repairs to the time circuits, which kept resetting the Destination Time setting to January 1, 1885. Doc also advised Marty to wait until old Biff gives his younger self the almanac so that he could go back to the future with the DeLorean. Unfortunately, Marty was locked in Biff's garage when Biff of 2015 gave 1955 Biff the almanac. Doc commandeered a bicycle to rescue him, only for Biff to leave for the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, with Marty still in the back of his car. While making his way back to the DeLorean, Doc came by his past self preparing for the past Marty's return to the future. He gave his younger self a few pointers before walking away to avoid being seen.
Ultimately, Marty succeeded in retrieving the almanac. Doc then started the DeLorean to fly to his position. Marty called Doc over the walkie-talkie, stating that Biff's gang is about to jump his past self singing Johnny B. Goode. Doc advised Marty to covertly stop them otherwise his past self wouldn't make it to the clock tower, thereby resulting in a paradox. Marty was successfull in protecting his younger self, but lost the almanac to Biff as he was leaving the gym. Doc picked up Marty and stealthily tailed Biff as he was driving home. They are able to once again snatch the almanac before having Biff slammed into a manure truck for the second time. After that, Marty burned the almanac, setting history straight. However this success was quickly followed by Doc, in the DeLorean, being sent back to 1885 when a bolt of lightning struck the DeLorean. Once in 1885, Doc set himself up as a blacksmith while trying to fix the DeLorean, but had to give up as suitable parts to repair the DeLorean's destroyed microchip would not be invented until 1947 (this matches the real-life date of the invention of the transistor.) He buried the DeLorean in the abandoned Delgado Mine on the outskirts of town and wrote a letter to Marty to be delivered just minutes after the DeLorean was struck by lightning. The letter was held by Western Union for the next 70 years, given to Marty in 1955.
It also appears that Doc made other travels to different time periods before coming back for Marty in 1985 as he possessed a suitcase full of money for, as he called it, all monetary possibilities.
In the Old West
Marty received the letter and ran to 1955 Doc, who had just sent the younger Marty back to the future. Marty and Doc uncovered the DeLorean and repaired it, but his orignal pet, Copernicus discovered that in 1885, Doc would be murdered by Buford 'Mad Dog' Tannen, ancestor of Biff. Marty headed back to September 2, 1885, the day after Doc wrote the letter and five days before Doc's death, to save his friend (Doc of 1885, who had been born in Timeline 2, is not aware of his impending death. Doc of Timeline 7, born more than 30 years after the 1885 death of Timeline 2 Doc, has seen the tombstone in 1955. Given that the ripple effect does not alter a time traveler's memory-- Marty's memory of his impoverished life is not replaced by memories of growing up in altered timelines -- Doc of 1885 would not know what would happen in the days ahead.
Marty located Doc, and once again Doc had to make repairs to the time machine after it ran out of gasoline (hard to come by in 1885) and accidentally blew out the DeLorean's fuel injector as an effect from using an unusually strong bottle of liquor from the Palace Saloon as a substitute for gas. While making a plan to use a train to push the DeLorean to 88 mph, Doc saved a woman, Clara Clayton, from falling over a ravine after a rattlesnake spooked her horses. They fell in love at first sight, much to the despair of Marty who saw Clara as a distraction. Doc and Clara danced at the town festival on September 5, where Marty managed to save Doc from being shot by Buford Tannen. Doc and Clara spent the rest of the night looking at the stars with her telescope and discovered that they both loved Jules Verne. They then had their first kiss that night.
Later, Doc realized he would have to leave Clara behind when he went back to the future with Marty on Monday. He said goodbye to her and told her the truth about where he came from. Naturally, she did not believe him and slapped him. Broken-hearted, Doc went to have a shot at the Palace Saloon, where Marty found him next morning (Monday) with the same shot. After drinking the shot, he immediately fell down drunk. Marty and Chester the bartender managed to revive Doc with an extremely spicy concoction called wake-up juice which included tabasco sauce, however it took until Buford Tannen arrived for his duel with Marty out in the streets.
Doc was taken hostage by Buford's gang after a failed plan to escape the saloon, however, Marty manages to save Doc from being killed just in time for the Marshal Strickland's deputy to arrest Buford and his gang, which caused the image on the photo of the tombstone to erase. Afterward, Doc and Marty hijacked ("borrowed", as Doc says) a train to use to push the DeLorean up to 88 miles per hour. Clara reappeared, having seen everything and realized Doc was telling the truth, but nearly fell off the train. Doc managed to save her, with help from Marty's hoverboard (a piece of technology from 2015), but got left behind with Clara in 1885. Marty managed to get home, but the time machine was destroyed less than a minute after his arrival, meaning he could not go back to rescue Doc and Clara from the past.
Over the next 10 years, Doc and Clara married and had two sons, Jules and Verne, named after their favorite author. Doc also built a new time machine, this time using a steam locomotive. The Brown family took off to visit the future (to get the train hover converted) and then back to 1985 to visit Marty and Jennifer and pick up Einstein before heading off to times unknown. Doc's parting advice to them was "Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one, both of you." Emmett Brown had come a long way from the time when he believed that "No man should know too much about his own destiny".
At this point in time, Doc had been away from his residence long enough that George McFly took it upon himself to make sure that his possessions were turned over to good hands. Marty had not seen Doc for over six months from his last appearance on the train tracks, but suddenly the DeLorean time machine appeared outside his house, as part of an automatic retrieval feature, with Einstein inside. Doc had left Marty a recording of his voice instructing Marty to locate him. Using a shoe left in the floorboard of the car, Einstein was able to sniff the owner of the shoe, and led Marty to meeting up with Doc in 1931. Doc had previously sought to solve the mystery of a Hill Valley speakeasy that burned down in Courthouse Square, however ended up caught during the explosion and knocked out with a brick to the head. Upon coming to, Doc woke up behind the bars of a jail cell, and Irving "Kid" Tannen, a notorious gangster, was blaming him for the explosion. Tannen would kill Doc, unless Marty intervened.
When Marty arrived in 1931, Doc told him of the events that led to his arrest, and instructed Marty to encounter his younger self, the young Emmett Brown working for his father Judge Brown in the Hill Valley Courthouse. While Marty and young Emmett concocted a plan to get 190 proof grain alcohol for a drill that would bust Doc out of jail, Kid Tannen picked up Doc and hauled him away to outside of Hill Valley. Marty caught up with the van, and foiled Kid's attempt to murder Doc.
On the return trip to 1986
Doc realized that something was terribly wrong, and began to fade from existence. When Marty arrived in what he thought was the corrected 1986, it turned out to be yet another alternate timeline: 1986B, in which Emmett had been married to Edna Strickland and became the enigmatic First Citizen Brown. Marty committed several offenses in this new utopian/dystopian version of Hill Valley and was sent to the First Citizen's office. Upon jogging Brown's memory about the past, by pointing himself out in a photograph, Marty was able to convince him mildly that he was a time traveler, however Brown still was not convinced. Only after revealing that the Citizen Plus Program was really a ploy to control the minds of residents did Brown fall on the side of Marty. Marty handed him his notebook from the original timeline. Most of the pages were blank, save for one: the sketch of the flux capacitor. The image was nearly identical to the image of the man with open arms that had represented his vision of a perfect society. This realization sent him reeling to repair the DeLorean, however, unfortunately on his way back home he was detained by the police force on behalf of his wife Edna.
Eventually, Citizen Brown was rescued by Marty, who was disguised as a security guard in the Citizen Plus ward. Citizen Brown and Marty managed to escape from the ward, and evade Edna's capture. At this point, Citizen Brown headed off to fix the wrecked DeLorean (which he had moved to his secret lab near Clayton Ravine), but could not bring Marty along, as it would create a paradox. Citizen Brown then told Marty to stay off the streets for a few seconds, but, after Citizen Brown takes a few minutes to return, Marty became worried. Citizen Brown arrives, revealing that it actually took him six months to repair the DeLorean, along with his family fortune and a "sketchy deal" with Libyans. However, once Brown discovered that he arrived a few minutes after he initially left, instead of a few seconds as he intended, he became concerned, but shrugged it off, and departed, along with Marty, for 1931.
Marty and Citizen Brown arrived in 1931, which brought back a lot of memories for Brown. However, it was soon revealed to both himself and Marty that there was a serious problem with the time circuits, as they had jumped to October 12, 1931, the first day of the Hill Valley Science Expo, not August 26, 1931 as they had originally intended. This error in destination confirmed Brown's fears about the time circuits, which caused Brown and Marty to alter their plans, as they only had a day to break up Emmett and Edna. Brown later proceeded to remain at Hill Valley High School while Marty was executing his plan to break up Emmett and Edna. During this time, he was mainly distracting Edna, talking to her about a "private matter". After Marty requested to use the DeLorean to get to Emmett's lab, Citizen Brown tested the time circuits by traveling one minute into the past, but ended up going back six hours. This gave him time to go to the hardware store and buy parts for a chronometric analyzer, to help fix the time circuits. He then tested the time circuits twice more later.
As the expo was about to begin, Citizen Brown began to have second thoughts about his and Marty's plan, and discussed the possibility of a "third way" where "everybody wins" with Marty, after Marty revealed that his timeline's Edna was sad and lonely. Marty declined, which led a disgruntled Citizen Brown to leave Marty. Later that night, he found a sad Edna walking along a dirt road, as she had just broken up with Emmett. He offered to give her a ride, and tells her that everything will be okay. At this point, Citizen Brown formed a plan with Edna to stop Marty, and get Emmett back in Edna's arms.
The next day, Brown almost ran over Marty outside the high school. At this point, Brown revealed to Marty that he had decided to stop Emmett's Expo demonstration, in hopes of preventing his scientific future and getting him back with Edna. This is the point where Marty and Citizen Brown's alliance officially severed. After escaping from Marty, Brown managed to get Emmett to follow him into the Atlas House of Glass, where Brown presented Emmett with a business proposition (the details of which were never revealed, only that it would've required Emmett to leave the Expo). Eventually, Brown got Emmett to inhale chloroform, and stashed him in the bathysphere exhibit, while he disguised himself as the Diver who supervises the exhibit. Marty caught onto this, and managed to rescue Emmett, though only after nearly killing Emmett, and, in turn, Citizen Brown. Brown then ran off, where he ran into Edna, who stole the DeLorean in order to evade capture by Detective Parker. While this occurred, Emmett pulled off his demonstration, and Citizen Brown, in turn, began to fade out. Marty located him, and held his hand as he faded out. Their conflict was resolved once Marty showed him the newspaper and it was revealed that Emmett would become an inventor. Brown stated that he would "be okay", and faded out of existence.
A few minutes later, the DeLorean reappeared in the high school parking lot, and Doc (as Marty remembered him) emerged from it, having returned to 1931 due to the "explanation" that Marty gave Doc's younger self seconds before Doc arrived. At this point, Detective Parker drove up, claiming that he thought "that car" disappeared, as he pointed out that Edna just disappeared in exactly the same car. After he said this, Doc became incredibly concerned, hoping Edna jumped into the future. However, just as he said this, Hill Valley seemingly vanished, and both Marty and Doc became surprised by this. William McFly then drove up, and when Doc and Marty asked what happened to Hill Valley, William replied that he had no idea what "Hill Valley" was. He knew there was a town there before he was born and said that Mary Pickford could answer any questions they have. Doc and Marty walked to her house, and discovered that "Mary Pickford" was actually an old Edna under an alias. After deducing that she had Repressive Memory Syndrome, they managed to help create a scene in which she revealed everything that had happened to her. At this point, it was revealed that she attempted to burn down a saloon built by Beauregard Tannen, but ended up also accidentally burning down all of Hill Valley. She then showed them the newspaper article detailing the story, which dated the event to 2:00 am July 17, 1876.
Doc and Marty traveled back to 1876, and managed to find the saloon, with Edna preparing to burn it down. Doc located Edna, but, at this point, Beauregard Tannen found both of them. This led to a "Mexican standoff" type scenario, which only ended after Marty managed to put out Edna's torch and disarm Tannen at the same time by dropping various resources from around the saloon onto their heads. Doc managed to knock Tannen out with a punch (which he didn't want Marty to tell Clara about), but Edna was able to escape, which prompted Marty and Doc to chase after her in the hovering DeLorean.
Once Doc and Marty caught up to Edna's DeLorean, Doc noticed that it had diagnostic lights all over it, which he noted were put on there by his alternate self. Doc instructed Marty to slip some flux overrides over the diagnostic lights, which he successfully performed. This allowed Doc to sync up with and take control of Edna's DeLorean, and he brought her back to 1931 (the correct timeline). Doc and Marty witnessed Edna's arrest, discovered Trixie's true identity as Marty's grandma Sylvia McFly, and returned to a slightly improved 1986. Marty told Doc that he had to stop the estate sale, but Doc has no idea what he was talking about, saying that he was just having a garage sale. He also noted that he and his family maintained a part-time residence in 1986, which pleased Marty. Doc then presented Marty with a gift, which was a full documentation of Marty's family history in Hill Valley. At this point, Doc revealed why he traveled back to 1931 -- to find info on Marty's grandma Sylvia, unaware that she was Trixie Trotter. Marty then thanked him, and Doc said that it was the least he could do for "the man who saved me from making the worst mistake of my life."
Just then, Edna appeared with Einstein, confusing Doc and Marty. Doc asked what she was doing, and she explained that she was doing what she did every afternoon: giving Einstein exercise. Kid Tannen then pulled up, and told Edna that they were late (revealing that they were now married), with Edna asking where her stepson (Biff) was. Doc told Marty not to say anything, and to just "walk quietly into the lab and hope there are no more surprises". Just then, a future Marty appeared and told Doc that he had to come back to the future with him. Two more Martys then appeared, further confusing Doc and Marty. They decided to ignore it, and Doc and Marty departed for an unknown time.
The Brown family eventually moved back to the 20th century and by 1991, Doc had set up the Institute of Future Technology. He also invented an 8-seater DeLorean, which came in handy after Biff stole the time machine again, and visitors to the Institute, sitting in one of these 8-seaters, had to help Doc chase Biff through time.
On April 22, 1990, Doc arrived at St. Terra Hospital in Anytown after Mother Nature became ill due to the heavy pollution on Earth. Once there, he shared knowledge of the details causing her illness and what could be done to help her with Doogie Howser and several other doctors on staff.
Also by 1991, Doc, Clara, Jules and Verne lived in a farmhouse outside Hill Valley with Einstein. The family, along with Marty, traveled through time in both the Jules Verne train time machine and the new DeLorean (which from the outside looked identical to the old one, but was drastically different inside).
Little is known of Doc in the 2000s and 2010s, prior to time travel. Assuming he aged normally in one timeline, he would have been into his 90s and almost 100 by 2015. After his initial trip to the future, however, he explained to Marty that he went to a clinical rejuvenation clinic, replacing, amongst other things, his colon and spleen. This most certainly would have extended his lifespan some.Doc may have spent some time in the 2000s with his wife Clara and sons Jules and Verne, although the family never settled on one decade, instead choosing to spend their lives in multiple decades, moreover the old West. In 2006, his Institute of Future Technology was replaced by another building.
Personality and traits
Doc is a a highly intelligent, eccentric scientist who is passionate about science, but is quite nutty, almost to be a point of being pretty insane, as he has taken part in actually stealing plutonium, and having terrorist come after him. Despite his strangeness, Doc does care about those he's close to. He's kind, supportive, encouraging and plays as a positive mentor to Marty, to a point of actually being quite fatherly. Though Doc is incredibly intelligent and inventive, he could be absent-minded at times, and was regarded by many of Hill Valley's townsfolk as strange or as a crazy mad scientist. As such, he had few friends (the only known friends were his dog, Marty McFly, and Marty's girlfriend Jennifer Parker). Because of this, Doc was often seen as a loner. However, Doc cared about the people he was close to. Doc did not believe in "love at first sight" until he ended up meeting his future wife Clara Clayton in 1885, since he did not see how such a feeling worked.
As a scientist and a time traveler, he takes his job very seriously. Doc often worked through the night on his inventions and could become obsessed with little things. He would always try to use a big word rather than a small one if one is available – for example, he referred to a dance as a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual". He could also be a showoff with his knowledge, as when he saw a dinosaur tooth and identified it as a "third incisor from the apex of the dental bridge". Doc often used the phrase "Great Scott!" as an exclamation. He also liked jazz music, Jules Verne novels and Westerns Green was his favorite color, one that he found soothing. Although he had a perchance to gamble, he would never use time travel for that reason. Doc did not usually drink alcoholic beverages, since he had a tendency to pass out after just one drink, especially when that drink was whiskey. He was allergic to all synthetic fabrics.
Doc sometimes went to great lengths, even illegal acts, that would allow him to complete his projects. He cheated Libyan terrorists out of an unspecified amount of plutonium, and would have died as a result had Marty not intervened. Although he was usually careful about being discreet with the DeLorean, he referred to the time machine as a time machine in public, leading Biff Tannen to use it without Doc's knowledge in an attempt to alter history. In 1985, he flew land-based vehicles with hover conversions during the daytime, with no consideration of the possibility of people seeing him.
Behind the scenes
- Writer Bob Gale has denied the rumor that the name Emmett Lathrop was derived by spelling the words "time" and "portal" backwards. He and Robert Zemeckis simply chose names that sounded good and were out of the ordinary, as a contrast with the common last name "Brown".
- The "L" in Emmett L. Brown's name stands for "Lathrop", it has been speculated that this may have been his mother's maiden name, although there is no evidence for this.
- The novelization and screenplays states that he is 65 in 1985, although an episode of the animated series claims he was born in 1922. In Back to the Future: The Game, Emmett is 17 in 1931, which means that he was born in 1914.
- "Christopher Lloyd says that his model for creating the character was actually the conductor Leopold Stokowski, with the hair that way, and the big, broad gestures. Doc Brown walks around like he's conducting the orchestra of the world." - Bob Gale
- In addition Albert Einstein was an influence to the character
- It has been speculated that "Doc" is supposed to be a relative of real-life scientist Wernher von Braun.
- Doc's family was presumably from the German Empire or Austria-Hungary.
- First Citizen Brown's balding and spectacled appearance in the game looked similar to Christopher Lloyd's real-life appearance as in the 2010s.
- The exterior of Doc Brown's 1955 house at the beginning of the film is actually the Gamble House in Pasadena, California.
- The interior of Doc Brown's 1955 Mansion is the Blacker House. It was built by architects Charles Greene and Henry Greene; the same architects that built the Gamble House.
- Robert Zemeckis, co-writer/director of the films, has suggested that during the early 1940s, Doc worked on the Manhattan Project (which could explained the reason why the Libyan terrorists specifically picked Doc to build them a nuclear weapon), though this is never mentioned on screen.
- In a 2002 question and answer session at USC for the DVD of Back to the Future, Zemeckis said that John Lithgow had been considered for the role of Doc Brown, but Lithgow was unavailable. Producer Neil Canton, who had recently worked with Lithgow on The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, suggested Christopher Lloyd, who had been in the film as well.
- In the 2009 documentary Looking Back to the Future, one of the features on the 2009 DVD re-release of Back to the Future, Zemeckis said that Jeff Goldblum, who had also been in Buckaroo Banzai, was the next choice if Lloyd declined the role.
- Lloyd, in the 2009 documentary, said that he had an offer for an off-Broadway theatrical production at the same time that he would be filming Back to the Future, and debated whether to appear on stage, or portraying Doc Brown.
- Doc owns a clock that is shown at the beginning of Back to the Future Part I that shows an old man in a jacket and a hat hanging on to the minute hand just like the 1955 Doc later on in the movie and also resembled Harold Lloyd (no relation) in "Safety Last".
- If one looks very closely at each time Doc is shot by the Libyans, the second time has a very obvious difference to show that he didn't really die. The first Doc (with no knowledge) gets fired upon so much, he literally balances on one foot before toppling over backwards. The second Doc (with the foresight to wear the vest) merely waves up his arms and then falls backwards using his arms for some cushion.
- Strangely enough, the first time Doc is shot by the Libyans, there is no blood at all, when it should have painted Doc's van (one could conclude he had the vest because it could have been a predestination paradox). However, one likely explanation is that when Doc first died, he was sent recoiling by the gunfire and landed on the parking lot pavement, thus any blood could have seeped there. However, the film producers likely did not want to focus on blood as that was not that crucial to the plot, only that Marty must now go back in time to warn the younger Doc. Other likely explanation is not wishing to jeopardize their overall family-friendly image of the film by risking it getting rated PG-13 or R.
- Christopher Lloyd got nominated for Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for Doc (BTTF1).
- The brief "Hi" that Doc and Lorraine give each other, after Lorraine follows Marty to Doc's garage, (besides being the only time in any of the three films that Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson share a scene) is the only time that Doc directly interacts with any member of the McFly family, besides Marty, on-screen. Doc did supposedly incapacitate Martin McFly, Jr. with his sleep inducer in 2015, but this occurred off-camera.
- Back to the Future
- Back to the Future novelization
- Back to the Future: The Story
- Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future Part II novelization
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future Part III novelization
- Back to the Future: The Pinball
- The Earth Day Special (Non-canonical appearance)
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- "A Family Vacation"
- "Forward to the Past"
- "Roman Holiday"
- "Go Fly a Kite"
- "Time Waits for No Frog"/Einstein's Adventure"
- "Solar Sailors"
- "Dickens of a Christmas"
- "Gone Fishin'"
- "Clara's Folks"
- "Mac the Black"
- "Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!" (First onscreen mention of Emmett Brown's middle name Lathrop.)
- "Marty McFly PFC"
- "Bravelord and the Demon Monstrux"
- "The Money Tree"
- "A Verne by Any Other Name"
- "Hill Valley Brown-Out"
- "My Pop's an Alien"
- "Super Doc"
- "St. Louis Blues"
- "Verne Hatches an Egg"
- All live-action segments (as portrayed by Christopher Lloyd)
- Back to the Future comic series
- Back to the Future: The Ride
- McDonald's Commerical (Non-canonical appearance)
- The Simpsons Ride (Non-canonical appearance)
- Back to the Future: The Card Game
- Back to the Future: The Game
- A Million Ways to Die in the West (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Dimensions
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Gone Fishin'"
- ↑ "Put on Your Thinking Caps, Kids! It's Time for Mr. Wisdom!"
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Back to the Future
- ↑ According to drafts of the BTTF screenplays
- ↑ According to Back to the Future: The Game
- ↑ Back to the Future Part III
- ↑ BTTF novel p. 114
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ A draft script suggests he got into science when he stuck his finger in an electrical socket.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 Back to the Future Part II
- ↑ Back to the Future Co-Creator Bob Gale Explains How Doc and Marty Became Friends
- ↑ It is speculated that since Biff was warned by his older self upon delivery of the almanac that a "crazy, wild-eyed old scientist" would ask about it someday, Biff was the one who had Doc committed, but no concrete evidence is provided in the film.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Back to the Future: The Ride
- ↑ The Earth Day Special
- ↑ Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- ↑ "Verne Hatches an Egg"
- ↑ BTTF novel p.128
- ↑ Gale, Bob, "Back to the Future Myths and Misinformation Debunked by Bob Gale", bttf.com News, Nov. 11, 2010.