- "The only party I'll be smilin' at, is the one that sees you at the end of a rope."
- —James Strickland to Buford Tannen
- "All right, now break it up. What's all this about? You causing trouble here, Tannen?"
- —James Strickland to Marty McFly and Buford Tannen
James Strickland was the Chief Marshal of Hill Valley in 1885, and the paternal grandfather of Robert Strickland, Edna Strickland, and Gerald Strickland, the Hill Valley High School vice-principal in the 20th century. Along with his son Roger (presumably the father of Robert, Edna, and Gerald Strickland), the Marshal was first seen attending the festival that celebrated the clock tower being constructed. He arrived in Hill Valley in 1874.
He and his deputy made sure that no one went to the party armed, although Strickland missed a small Derringer pistol hidden underneath the hat of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen. Tannen snidely told the Marshal that he ought to smile since it was a party, but the stoic lawman simply replied he would only smile when he saw Tannen hanged. After Tannen and his men left, Strickland turned to his son and told him to always remember to value discipline above all else. Later, at the party, Strickland showed up armed with a shotgun during a tense moment between Tannen and "Clint Eastwood," breaking up the confrontation and getting the party back on track. He was not seen again after this, but his granddaughter, Edna Strickland, stated that he was shot and killed by "Mad Dog" Tannen.
Sometime after arriving in 1876, Edna would informed Marshall Strickland of a Palace Saloon being built by Beauregard Tannen. His inaction resulted in Edna attempting to burn the building herself, only to be stopped by Marty and Doc.
In the 1931A timeline, Edna kept a picture of her grandfather, and in her deluded state mistook her cactus for him after a mop top and hat were placed on it.
Behind the scenes
- A deleted scene, which remained in the novel of the film, had Tannen and his men encountering Marshal Strickland and his son while en route to the duel with "Eastwood," and Strickland attempted to bar the outlaw's way. Tannen warned him to stand aside unless he wanted his son to see him die, and Strickland for some reason obeyed, but was then shot anyway by Tannen who rode off with his gang. As he lay dying, Strickland told his distraught son once more, "Remember, son. Discipline." This explains why it is Strickland's deputy who arrests Tannen later and not Strickland himself. (As originally filmed, the deputy arrested Tannen for the murder of Marshal Strickland, but in the finished film the deputy arrested him for robbing the Pine City Stage.) As the scene was deleted from the film, the canonicity of Strickland's death remained unclear. According to some Back to the Future fans, he was indeed killed because in Episode 1 of Back to the Future: The Game, Edna Strickland noted that he was gunned down by "Mad Dog" Tannen. However, this is debated by many fans since according to Bob Gale "Only the movies are canon" and that "Everything else fits into the 'what-if?' category, or might be canon in some alternate universe."
- His name was not mentioned in the film, but was mentioned in the novel. It may be a reference to actor James Tolkan, who plays both the Marshal and Mr Strickland. The Marshall was given a full head of hair to make up for Mr Strickland (and Tolkan himself) being bald, according to Bob Gale in the DVD commentary.
- Back to the Future Part III
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time (Photograph)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME (Photograph)
Notes and references
| The McFly Family|
Marty McFly | George McFly | Lorraine Baines McFly | Jennifer Parker | Seamus McFly | Maggie McFly
Dave McFly | Linda McFly | Martin McFly, Jr. | Marlene McFly | Arthur McFly
| The Brown Family|
Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown | Clara Clayton Brown | Jules Brown | Verne Brown | Einstein
| The Tannen Family|
Biff Tannen | Buford Tannen | Griff Tannen | Irving "Kid" Tannen
| The Strickland Family|
James Strickland | Roger Strickland | Irene Strickland | Edna Strickland | Gerald Strickland
Match, Skinhead & 3-D | Goldie Wilson | Douglas J. Needles