- —Mr. Strickland's famous insult
Gerald Strickland  (also known as Stanford S. Strickland, typically referred to as Mr. Strickland) is a strict authoritarian with a strong disdain for slackers (particularly those of the McFly family). He has been shown to be stiff, uncompromising, pedantic and humorless. In this respect he took after his grandfather Chief Marshal James Strickland of Hill Valley 1885, who was constantly at odds with local outlaw Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. He had an older sister, Edna Strickland, who served as a columnist for the Hill Valley Herald, and an older brother, Robert Strickland.
When Strickland was a baby, he had no hair, as evidence by a photograph of him in Edna's apartment. She noted that she would always find him dressing up in their mother's clothes, also depicted in the photograph.
Mr. Strickland is known to have served as a Captain in the United States Army during World War II, and at that time, he would shout the term "slacker" when telling residences to shut off their house lights during air raid siren testing.
1955Strickland worked at Hill Valley High School in both 1955 and 1985, and was seen to wear a bow-tie in each of these years. On November 7th, 1955, he was lecturing young George McFly, demanding "Do you want to be a slacker for the rest of your life?" Later that day, as Biff Tannen and "Calvin Klein" prepared to fight in the lunchroom, he walked over and, without saying a word, stopped the altercation. Strickland was about to interrogate the "new student" (Marty, who may or may not have been enrolled by Emmett Brown), but the sudden appearance of a paper airplane caused Strickland to march off in the direction of another slacker.
Strickland was chaperone at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, where he was not impressed with "Calvin Klein's" (in reality, Marty's) music.
When Doc and Marty returned to 1955 to restore history by taking the Grays Sports Almanac away from Biff Tannen, Strickland confiscated what Marty believed to be the almanac from Biff, but in reality was a pornographic magazine entitled Oh LàLà (pronounced by Marty as "Ooh La La"), and labeled Biff a slacker. Shortly after, Strickland unknowingly trapped the hand of his future adversary Marty McFly between his chair and desk as Marty attempted to re-acquire the almanac. Strickland, showing rare hint of amusement at Biff's audacity, threw the magazine in the trash. After appropriating it, Marty discovered that it was not the almanac, but merely Oh La La inside the almanac's dust jacket, and the chase was on again.
- "Now let me give you a nickel's worth of free advice, young man."
- —Mr. Strickland to Marty McFly in 1985.
In 1985, Strickland was just the same as he was in 1955 – right down to his complete lack of hair. In the morning of October 25, 1985, he caught Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker sneaking into school late. After finding out this was because Marty was at Doc's house, he warned Marty not to hang around with Doc because he believed that Doctor Brown was a "nutcase" (suggesting that Strickland and Doc may have met in the past, or else Strickland just thought that Doc was a nutcase for no real reason). Then he noted that Marty's band, The Pinheads, were auditioning for the dance after school. Strickland informed Marty not to waste his time, telling him that "no McFly has ever amounted to anything in the history of Hill Valley." Marty responded by saying that history was going to change.
- "Eat lead, slackers!"
- —Mr. Strickland
In the alternate 1985, Marty was mistakenly identified as the person responsible for stealing Strickland’s newspapers (although correctly identified as a slacker, a judgment reinforced by Marty’s own admission) and threatened with the loss of his prospects of ever fathering children by Jennifer forever by the business end of a pump-action shotgun. Strickland in this reality was even more grim and hard edged, now more than willing to shoot at anyone he perceived to be a threat. Here he wore a bulletproof vest — even with his nightshirt — and had a scar on his face. He angrily explained to Marty, who he did not recognize in this alternate reality, about how the high school was burned down by vandals six years before. Fortunately, at least for Marty, Strickland was promptly distracted by firefight with a drive-by shooting gang of gun-toting slackers, during which Marty eagerly made his escape towards downtown.
Even in this reality, Strickland had no trouble making enemies as he struggled vainly to keep order in a world gone mad.
1991/1992By 1991 - 1992, Strickland (or more likely a relative of his, like an offspring or even his brother) was the Dean of Hill Valley College.
Behind the scenes
- In a single line of dialogue from Mr. Strickland ("Doc? Am I to understand you're still hanging around with Doctor Emmett Brown, McFly?"), the movie viewers learn Marty's last name and Doc's first and last name.
- In a scene deleted from the movie, Strickland found George McFly trapped in a payphone booth by bullies. Instead of letting him out, he called George a "slacker" and left him inside.
- His first name had been unclear for some time. The Back to the Future novelization refers to him as "Gerald", but his office door in Part II says S S STRICKLAND. The initials might refer to his title, such as a student supervisor. It is unclear whether the school superintendent, who would administer all of the district's schools, would be part of his duties. His full name was confirmed in the first episode of Back to the Future: The Game.
- In the Back to the Future novelization, Strickland starts quizzing the new student, who claims that his name is "Marty Brown". The book also describes events in 1985, where Strickland has Marty in detention. While his Walkman is being crushed in a woodworking vise, Marty sets off a fire alarm through a complicated series of events, getting away to go to the Battle of the Bands. The 1985 scene was filmed with Eric Stoltz, but not with Michael J. Fox. Like the "Marty Brown" scene, it does not appear in the film.
- A fan theory suggests that Strickland asked the judges to fail the Pinheads due to Marty's "attitude problem", although there is no mention of this in the scripts or movies. Despite Strickland's hardnosed attitude toward the McFly's, this would seem to be excessively petty and harsh, even for him.
- Strickland seems more content to simply discipline his targets swiftly and directly the moment he witnesses a transgression, rather than act pre-emptively.
- Strickland is the only character in Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II (except for Marty) who miraculously does not age between 1955 and 1985 — though he does lose the remaining fringe of brown hair that he had in 1955, becoming completely bald over thirty years.
- Back to the Future as Mr. Strickland
- Back to the Future novelization as Gerald Strickland
- Back to the Future Part II as S. S. Strickland
- Back to the Future: The Story
- Back to the Future: The Animated Series
- Back to the Future: The Game as Stanford Strickland
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time (Photograph)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions (Photograph)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ Supplements with Back to the Future: The Game that show Strickland to be age three in 1928.
- ↑ Back to the Future novelization
- ↑ Back to the Future Part II
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time
- ↑ Marty makes this speculation if the cursor is clicked on the photo.
- ↑ "Marty McFly PFC"
- ↑ Back to the Future: The Animated Series