- "It looks like an airplane - without wings."
- —Otis Peabody on the DeLorean time machine
Otis Peabody was the "Old Man Peabody" referred to by Doc Brown in 1985 while on the parking lot at Twin Pines Mall. Peabody was the owner of a farm which he planned to convert into a ranch for breeding pine trees in the 1950s. This plan was never fully realized, as the land was later sold and developed into the mall. Otis was regarded as a bit crazy for this idea. The Twins Pines mall was named in honor of this dream, after the two pine trees he started off with.
On the morning of November 5, 1955, Peabody's son Sherman, who read science fiction magazines, mistook the DeLorean time machine for a hostile craft from outer space. Peabody, along with his wife and daughter, were convinced that they were under attack.
Marty McFly escaped from the ranch in the DeLorean, inadvertently destroying one of Otis's two prize saplings with which he had hoped to start his pine breeding ranch. Peabody reported it to the police, who believed him to be insane and sent him to the County Asylum the next day.
Eventually, his children leased the land to a real estate developer to build a mall. The mall ended up being named the "Lone Pine Mall" in the revised timeline, in honor of Otis's original dream.
Before being converted into a ranch for breeding pine trees, the ranch was apparently a regular farm. In Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games, a crate marked "Peabody Farms" can be seen in the flatbed of a truck driven by young Emmett Brown in the year 1931. Another crate, or possibly even the same one, could be seen at Doc's garage sale in the year 1986.
Behind the scenes
The names Peabody and Sherman are used in a cartoon that was part of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. There was an anthropomorphic canine professor named Peabody, and a young ward of his named Sherman who traveled into the past via a time machine of Peabody's design known as the "WABAC Machine". The premise of the series consisted of the duo going back in time to discover the comical "real" situation behind famous events in history. Often they had to assist famous historical figures in order to keep history on track. They also sometimes explained Aesop's fables. Each adventure ended in the trademark Rocky and Bullwinkle-style pun. The naming of the characters as Peabody and Sherman is likely a nod to these cartoon characters, due to their association with time travel fiction.
In a deleted scene from Back to the Future Part II, after having met himself in Courthouse Square, Doc came across Peabody and a police officer near the Lyon Estates billboard where the DeLorean is hidden.