- "Jennifer was terrific, of course. He [Marty] was quite taken by her, even felt that he "loved" her in the most adult sense. She was beautiful and fun to be around and she loved his music. Yet somehow she was not quite as important to Marty as the musical experience. Perhaps in time she would grow to be vastly more valuable to him, but for the moment Jennifer was of this world and his music was of the next."
- —From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, page 5)
- "Marty, one rejection isn't the end of the world."
- —Jennifer to Marty after his band's audition
Jennifer Jane Parker McFly was the girlfriend, and later the wife, of Marty McFly. Jennifer was the world's fourth time traveler and the third human one. She was the daughter of Danny Parker Jr. and the granddaughter of Danny Parker and his wife Betty.
Jennifer and Marty seemed to be "serious" enough for him to introduce her to his best friend, local inventor Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, who was regarded as eccentric and strange by many townspeople.
Jennifer had a mainly positive attitude to life, knowing what to say to Marty if he needed cheering up, and wondering what happy life she might have in the future.
Little is known about Jennifer's life prior to Marty's trip to 1955, other than that she had started dating Marty some time before October 1985.
1985On October 25, 1985, Jennifer helped cover for Marty, who was late for class, but became caught herself. She was given a tardy slip by Mr. Strickland, but her disciplinary record had not yet caught up to Marty's infamous "four [tardies] in a row". After school, Jennifer accompanied Marty to the Battle of the Bands audition, and when the Pinheads failed to get through, she comforted Marty by reminding him that one rejection is not the end of the world and that if he put his mind to it, he could accomplish anything - which was also a saying of Doc's.
Jennifer and Marty made plans to go camping by the lake for that weekend, and as they kissed in Courthouse Square, they were interrupted by both the Clock Tower Lady, then by her father. As Jennifer prepared to leave, Marty promised to call her. Jennifer was going to be at her grandma's house that evening, so she wrote down her grandma's telephone number (555-4823), along with "I love you!", on the back of a "Save the Clock Tower" flyer. Because of this, Marty kept the flyer in his pocket, and still had it in his possession after he got stuck in 1955.
Jennifer called Marty twice on Friday night, but had to speak instead to Marty's sister Linda, who made it clear to Marty that she was not his "answering service". This evoked a harsh response from the Lorraine of the original timeline, who disapproved of the Sadie Hawkins method and said that she does not like girls who call up boys. In the second timeline, Lorraine's attitude towards Jennifer had significantly improved, and she welcomed Jennifer dating Marty, which presumably made a smoother transition to accepting Jennifer as her future daughter-in-law.
The next morning in the second timeline, Jennifer arrived at the McFly house, unaware that Marty has spent a week in 1955 since she had last seen him. Marty now had a truck, thanks to the changes he made in the past, and Jennifer had come for a ride. Just as they were about to leave, though, Doc arrived in his DeLorean time machine. Jennifer accompanied Marty and Doc on a trip "to the future".
Although it is not specifically mentioned, it is likely that neither Jennifer nor her father were ever born in an alternate 1986 in which Irving "Kid" Tannen never went to prison and the Tannen Crime Family ultimately became the fifth most powerful crime family in California. This is due to the fact that Jennifer's paternal grandmother Betty left her grandfather Danny in 1931, before they were to have been married, after his failure to capture "Carl Sagan", which he blamed on "flying space cars".
The Jennifer in this timeline was a punk girl that regularly broke the rules. Sometime prior to the events of Marty interacting with this timeline she dumped an alternate version of him because he wasn't good at playing guitar and followed the rules, making him a "square". She then started to date Leech, who was possibly an alternate Needles. She fell back to Marty after he bested Leech in guitar skills. After Marty was captured by Edna Strickland, he woke up in the Citizen Plus Program facility, discovering Jennifer in the room next door, already having undergone the first "treatment" and acting docile and slightly brainwashed. Marty used his guitar to break the brainwashing, and Jennifer helped him escape by knocking out the security guard, locking him in her soundproof room, and giving his uniform to Marty as a disguise. She gave Marty a good luck kiss as she left, and said "Bite me!" to the guard escorting her out when he threatened to write her up for a public display of affection.
Jennifer joined Marty and Doc Brown in the DeLorean. Upon entering 2015, Jennifer excitedly started asking Doc questions about her future. Not wanting her to know, Doc used a sleep-inducing alpha rhythm generator on her, sending her to sleep. He left her in an alleyway whilst Marty visited the Cafe 80's pretending to be his future son, and while Doc went to knock out the real Marty Jr.
Police officers Reese and Foley found Jennifer in the alleyway, and used an identa-pad to find out who she was; and since her thumbprint never changed over the years, they assumed she was the 2015 Jennifer ("47? That's a hell of a good facelift!"). They took her to her future home and left her inside, just as she started to wake up.
Jennifer realized she was trapped in her future home — she did not know how to open the thumb pad-operated doors — and found out what her future would be. She would hear Marty's parents relate how Marty had gotten himself into a car accident after a former classmate had called him a chicken, and how Marty's life had been ruined. Jennifer was horrified to find out that she and Marty had been married in the Chapel O' Love, rather than the big church wedding she had wanted. She was able to see and hear the two children whom she would be the mother of in 2015, Marlene and Marty Jr. Worse, she saw Marty at 47, a broken man who could no longer play a guitar due to the damaged hand he had sustained in the aforementioned car accident, who let himself be manipulated by Douglas J. Needles, and who finally ended up being fired by his boss. Jennifer's final shock was when she used the thumb plate to open the front door; she found herself face-to-face with the 47-year-old woman that she would become, and, with the dual exclamation "Oh, my God! (young Jennifer) I'm old! / (older Jennifer) I'm young!", both fainted.
Doc caught Jennifer before she could hit the ground, and Doc and Marty carried her to the car to take her back to 1985. Neither realized that Biff Tannen had used the DeLorean to change history. In the alternate 1985, Jennifer was left on the porch swing at her home where Marty noticed security bars on the windows which he didn't remember seeing before. Marty eventually had to come back in the restored timeline, wake her up, and convince her it was all a dream.
After his adventures through time were over (via trips to 1955 to put history back on track and undo Biff's actions, and to 1885 to save Doc), Marty arrived at the Parker residence on October 27, 1985 to find Jennifer still sleeping. He woke her with a kiss and they went out in his truck.
Jennifer told Marty about her 'dream', when a classmate, Needles, challenged Marty to a race. Jennifer realized that this would cause the accident that ruins Marty's life in the future, and urged him not to do it. At first she was shocked at Marty revving up the truck but was surprised when Marty purposely put the car in reverse and went backward. At the realization that Marty didn't hit the Rolls-Royce as he did in the alternate future, Jennifer pulled out a sheet of fax paper from the future with the message "YOU'RE FIRED!!!", just in time to see the words vanishing from existence right off the sheet — causing her to exclaim "It erased!", much to Marty's puzzlement.
Jennifer was now in on the secret of the time machine, and was with Marty when Doc and his family arrived back from the Old West in their new train time machine. With the proof that they had prevented the events that could ruin their future, Doc told Jennifer and Marty to make their unwritten future a good one.
Jennifer is a semi-regular in the Animated Series. Like Marty, she was now in college and often tutored other students if they are stuck. She never time traveled, although she was aware of the time machines' existence (she once saw the DeLorean disappear in the sky and calmly mused that Doc was not going to be letting Marty borrow the car that day, apparently establishing that she took the ending scene of the third movie as reality and not just another dream). Jennifer did not appear in every episode, but she played key parts in the episodes "Witchcraft" and "A Friend In Deed", where Marty goes back to 1875 to stop the Tannen family from getting the deed to her grandparents' ranch.
The canonicity of the animated series as an extension of the films' storyline is unclear.
Behind the scenes
- Director Robert Zemeckis named the character in honor of famed injury attorney Larry H. Parker's daughter as Mr. Parker was instrumental in settling a copyright infringement suit in favor of Mr. Zemeckis.
- The novel for Part I gives her grandmother's phone number as 243-8480.
- The novel for Part II says that a computer recited that her date of birth is "October 29, 1968" (pp62-63), but in the film, there is no mention of a birthdate and Officer Foley says that she is 47 years old. If one was to put her birth year as 1968, that would make her 46 on October 21, 2015 and she is clearly said to be 47 on that date. That would mean she was born in the year of 1967. Or alternatively, it could simply mean that Officer Foley isn't too hot at mathematics.
- A draft script said that Jennifer (known as "Suzy" in the draft) was seeing a psychiatrist, but no mention of this is ever made in the films or novels.
- One might infer that she does not get along with her father, from the tone of her voice when she says, "It's my dad" to Marty in the first film, but she could have just been annoyed at her father being the second person (after the annoying Clock Tower Lady) to interrupt her kiss.
- Claudia Wells, who played the role of Jennifer Parker in the first film, was replaced by Elisabeth Shue for Parts II and III when Wells's mother was diagnosed with cancer.
- Though Claudia Wells was the original choice for Jennifer, she had been cast in an ABC television series and was unavailable when shooting started. Melora Hardin was cast as Jennifer, to play opposite Eric Stoltz, but before Hardin could even film a scene, Stoltz was let go. Because Hardin was several inches taller than Michael J. Fox, she was let go as well.
- See also Replacement of Claudia Wells
- Though not referred to in the films or the novelizations, Jennifer apparently was a cheerleader at Hill Valley High School. In Back to the Future Part II, when she is hiding in the closet in 2015, a maroon and white school jacket can be seen, with the name "Jennifer", and an emblem consisting of a megaphone over the "HV" letters.
- While there was never any mention of Jennifer's mother in any of the Back to the Future franchise, a popular fanon theory is that she was dead by 1985.
- In Back to the Future: The Animated Series, Jennifer's hair is blonde, reflecting Elizabeth Shue's appearance more than Claudia Wells's.
- 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 Animated Series
- Back to the Future: The Card Game (Mentioned only)
- Super Back to the Future Part II
- Back to the Future: The Game
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen! (Mentioned only)
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions
- Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME (Mentioned only)
| 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