The Back to the Future trilogy boasts three different versions of the same DeLorean, but four vehicles actually make unexplained appearances throughout the films. The classic ’80s time travel adventure has entertained fans for years, and, despite its convoluted spin on quantum physic principles and some glaring plot holes, the DeLorean is a timeless representation of these movies and will remain so for years to come. While the logic may not make sense, the DeLorean is the key component of time travel.
Over three films, Doc and Marty unintentionally and intentionally create multiple timelines that change the course of 1885, 1955, 1985, and 2015. Eight alternate timelines are shown on screen, though the pair could have potentially caused more historical shifts to which audiences aren’t privy. Doc and Marty wouldn’t have been able to wreak this much havoc without their trusty DeLorean.
Even though there is only one DeLorean, Doc and Marty make enough round trips for it to have several iterations in the same time period. There is the original DeLorean of 1985, the flight-enabled one from 2015, and the decades-old vehicle hidden since 1885. The easiest way to count how many DeLoreans there have been is to break them down by timeline. Let’s take a look at how many there were in each new reality.
Timeline 1 – Unaltered 1955 And 1985
In the first timeline of Back to the Future, no DeLoreans exist in 1955, though the first is introduced in 1985. The 1985 timeline features Marty’s siblings are suffering from arrested development, and their parents seem to be stuck in a disastrous marriage. His mother Lorraine reminisces on how charming his father George McFly was when they were first met back in high school, after Lorraine’s father hits George with his car. George was bullied and continues to be bullied by Biff Tannen. After Marty films Doc Brown’s time travel test drive with his dog Einstein, Doc is shot by Libyan terrorists to whom he gave a dud bomb. Marty attempts to escape in the DeLorean, and inadvertently travels back in time to November 5, 1955.
Timeline 2 – Journey To 1955 And Back To 1985
Marty creates a new, alternate timeline when traveling back to 1955. In this timeline, there is now one DeLorean present in 1955. Marty enlists the help of 1955’s version of Doc, who just hit his head and envisioned the flux capacitor, which makes time travel possible. Together they work to return Marty home without plutonium, and Marty is unsuccessful in telling Doc what lies in his future.
At the very end of the second timeline, two DeLoreans exist in 1985. Marty sets the time to return a couple of minutes before Doc is shot in 1985, thinking he’ll have enough time to warn him. The DeLorean breaks down almost as soon as it arrives in 1985, so Marty has to run to the mall. He watches 1985 Doc get shot again and the moment Marty 2 drives the DeLorean 2 fast enough to send him back to 1955. Doc survives in this timeline because he wore a bulletproof vest and Marty’s parents are now a happier couple with successful children. The next day, 1985 Doc whisks Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer away in his remodeled DeLorean to 2015 to fix their kids’ fates.
Timeline 3 – Alternate 2015
Back to the Future 2 bungles the timeline in various ways by creating new realities which Doc and Marty must fix. By traveling to 2015, Doc transforms the original 2015 timeline, which is not seen on screen. Instead, Marty needs to intervene and prevent his future son from going to jail. In the alternate 2015 timeline, there is one DeLorean in 2015 and one in 1955. Without a DeLorean in 1955, a time paradox would exist and the second and third timelines wouldn’t be possible
Timeline 4 – 2015 Biff Visits 1955 Biff
In timeline three’s 2015, old Biff overhears Doc and Marty arguing about the Gray’s Sports Almanac Marty purchases from a vintage store. After Doc throws the almanac out in the trash, elderly Bill takes it and steals the DeLorean, creating timelines four and five, in which 2015 Biff visits his younger self in 1955 to make him rich quick. Biff travels to November 1955, so, therefore, two DeLoreans are present in timeline four: the flight-enabled DeLorean and timeline 1’s 1985 DeLorean.
Timeline 5 – Second Alternate 1985
Old Biff returns the DeLorean to 2015 before fading away, though Doc, Marty, and Jennifer don’t know what he’s done until they return to 1985, which has been significantly altered due to Old Biff’s meddling. Another family lives in Marty’s house and Hill Valley has taken a turn for the worst, becoming a breeding ground for crime and overall wicked behavior. Doc calls this timeline “1985A,” since this is a hellish alternate period in which Biff is in power and married to Lorraine. Though it’s not immediately shown on screen, there are still two DeLoreans in 1955, as 1985A’s Biff describes his future self visiting to hand over the almanac to his teenage self in 1955.
Timeline 6 – Marty And Doc Go Back To 1955
In order to revise timelines four and five, Marty and Doc return to 1955, thereby creating timeline six, to destroy the almanac before young Biff can make future bets. In this alternate 1955, three versions of the DeLoreans are present simultaneously on the same day, since it’s November 12, 1955: the 1985 DeLorean Marty brings to 1955, timeline four and five’s flying DeLorean Biff steals from 2015, and timeline six’s flying DeLorean Doc and Marty drive. It’s also worth noting that there are two Martys and two Docs in Hill Valley, so the present versions must avoid their past versions at all costs.
Timeline 7 – Doc’s 1885 Journey
At the end of Back to the Future 2, the lightning storm which sends the original Marty back to 1985 is the same one which overloads timeline six’s flying DeLorean and transports Doc to 1885. Doc’s new life in 1885 comprises timeline seven and creates the phenomenon of 4 DeLoreans in 1955. Right after Doc disappears, Marty, seemingly stranded in 1955, receives a 70-year-old letter from Doc via Western Union, confirming that he was alive at some point and buried the now-defunct DeLorean in the Delgado Mine. In this seventh timeline, there are now four versions of the car in Hill Valley on November 12, 1955: the 1985 DeLorean, timeline four and five’s flying DeLorean Biff steals from 2015, timeline 6’s flying DeLorean, and the one waiting to be unearthed in the mine. This is the highest amount of cars present at the same time in the trilogy.
Timeline 8 – Marty’s Journey To 1885
After finding out that Doc died at the hands of Biff Tannen’s ancestor in 1885, Marty, with 1955 Doc’s assistance, fixes the Delgado mine DeLorean and travels to November 16, 1885 to save his friend. This kicks off timeline eight of Back to the Future 3, in which 2 versions of the DeLorean exist in 1885: the unearthed DeLorean from alternate 1955 and the one recently buried in the mine. When Marty’s arrival damages the fuel line of the present car, Doc and Marty don’t go to excavate the other car for its gas supply because that would tamper with timeline seven. If Doc used the car he buried, there’d be nothing for Marty to find in 1955.
Timeline 8 ends when Marty comes back to 1985 and the DeLorean is destroyed by an oncoming train. The 1985 Marty arrives in resembles 1985 at the close of timeline two. His parents and siblings are still happy and successful and Hill Valley is back to normal. Though there are some minor changes in this existing reality, it’s the one that has the best outcome. This wouldn’t have been possible without the often convoluted multiple DeLorean appearances throughout the Back to the Future trilogy.
Article Credit: JILL WRONSKI
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