Stanford S. Strickland

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Strickland 1985
Stanford S. Strickland, a.k.a. Gerald Strickland
Biographical information
Date of birth1925[1]
Age (1931)6
Age (1955)30
Age (1985)60
Age (2015)90
Physical description
Hair color(1955) Brown, balding;
(1985) Bald
Eye colorBrown
Behind-the-scenes information
Played byJames Tolkan
Voiced byJames Tolkan
"Strickland considered himself a student of human nature, a master of detecting the deceitful maneuver. Though over sixty and nearing the end of his long career in education, he relished each day's mental combat with the selfish young men and women who regarded him as an evil obstacle to their willfulness. Strickland knew they laughed at him behind his back, chuckled at his wearing a bow tie every day, and considered him a tyrant. But, by God, they didn't laugh when he was looking at them. No smart remarks emanated from their lips when he was interrogating them. They knew he had the power to make their lives temporarily miserable and they respected him for this."
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 5 and 6)
" Just as George McFly was about to be kicked by another student, a familiar figure suddenly appeared on the scene, snatching the [Kick Me] sign from his shirt and showing it to him. / "Good God!" Marty gasped. "It's Mr. Strickland." / It was true. Hill Valley High's avenging angel, still wearing a bow tie, was there in the form of Gerald Strickland. He looked younger, a bit tauter, but basically the same. His presence caused the other students to go quickly about their business. / "McFly! Shape up, man!" Strickland shouted. / George regarded him like a prisoner about to be sentenced. / "You're a slacker!" Strickland charged. "These things happen because you're not paying attention. Your head must be off on Mars or something. Do you want to be a slacker for the rest of your life?" / George shook his head unconvincingly. / "Then wake up and join the human race," Strickland continued. "That's all." / Thrusting the sign into George's hand, he stalked down the corridor towards his office. "
—From Back to the Future by George Gipe (quote, pages 142 and 143)
—Mr. Strickland's famous insult

Stanford S. Strickland[2][3][4] (also known as Gerald Strickland [5], typically referred to as Mr. Strickland) was a strict authoritarian with a strong disdain for slackers (particularly those of the McFly family). He had been shown to be stiff, uncompromising, pedantic and humorless. In this respect he took after his grandfather[3] 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.[3]


Young strickland

A photograph of Strickland at age 3.

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.[3]

A copy of the photograph was used in 1931 for the mind map test of the mental alignment meter. Babies in general are supposed to prompt a positive response[6]

Mr. Strickland was 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.[7]



Strickland of 1955. His bow-tie would still be part of his school attire in 1985.

Strickland worked at Hill Valley High School in both 1955 and 1985, and is known to have worn a bow tie in each of these years. On November 7, 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.
Back to the Future - George the slacker00:47

Back to the Future - George the slacker

Strickland calling George a 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 LàLà inside the almanac's dust jacket, and the chase was on again.


Strickland with Marty and Jenniifer

Strickland tells Marty that Doc Brown is a "nutcase".

Back to the Future - Caught by the principal00:57

Back to the Future - Caught by the principal

Marty and Jennifer are caught by Strickland sneaking into school late.

"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 and gave them both tardy slips. 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. It's possible that Strickland (after Marty's trip to 1955) was now nice with Marty, because he hated him because of his father George McFly: in the original timeline: he was a slacker, and after he punched Biff, he became a courageous guy (in a BD, Strickland said to Marty to tell his father that he liked the book that George had written).



Strickland holds Marty at gunpoint in the alternate 1985.

"There was a sound right behind him [Marty] — like somebody pumping a shotgun. Marty felt something cold and hard pressed against the side of his head — something like the barrel of a shotgun. / A voice spoke behind him: / 'So you're the son of a bitch who's been stealing my newspapers!' / Marty knew that voice, sure to strike terror into the hearts of teenagers throughout Hill Valley. He turned, slowly and carefully. / 'Mr. Strickland!' / The bald vice-principal in charge of discipline tipped his gun down slightly and frowned back at Marty. He looked even more fierce than the teenager remembered. Maybe it was because Mr. Strickland had somehow gotten a long and livid scar across his face that made him look like he was going to kill Marty at any minute. Or maybe it was that flak jacket Mr. Strickland was wearing over his bathrobe. Whatever it was, he looked twice as mean as he ever had before."
—From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, page 105)
"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 judgement 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.



This article is non-canon.

This article covers a subject that has been deemed non-canon by either the author or the Back to the Future licensees, and thus should not be taken as a part of the "real" Back to the Future universe.

By 1991 - 1992, Strickland (or more likely a relative of his, like an offspring or even his brother) was the Dean of Hill Valley College.[8]

Behind the scenes

  • In a single line of dialogue from Mr. Strickland ("Doc?  Am I to understand you're still hanging around with Dr. Emmett Brown, McFly?"), the movie audience learns Marty's last name, as well as Doc's first and last names. 
  • 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. 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 McFlys, 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.


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Notes and references

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