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Old memories vs. New memories

posted by sn939 on - last edited - Viewed by 1.2K users

This thread is for people who believe that time traveller's will eventually 'regain' their memories of 'newer' timelines (for eg. TP Marty would eventually gain the memories of living with a successful family in the LP timeline)

While I believe they will have their memories of both (or more) timelines, I'm at a bit of a loss to explain which set of memories would be dominant, and which 'version' would the time traveller consider himself.

There have been many mechanisms to explain the memory issue-one is that everytime the 'new version' of the time traveller goes back, his memory is replaced by the earliest version to make the trip...so he is essentially (retroactively) the 'new version' all along, albeit with old memories, and eventually, he will gain back his 'real memories', and he would thus essentially consider himself the 'new version'.

However, there is another theory (which is actually closer to what I believe) that when the 'new' version of the time traveller goes back, he is erased from existence...the old one re-appears from the original timeline, and later returns to the 'revised' timeline, gradually gaining the memories of the 'erased' alternate self....in which case, the original memories may well remain dominant.

So I'm curious to see what opinions would be on this issue, and whether we ultimately end up with LP/Eastwood Marty, or TP Marty with LP/Eastwood memories?

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  • The original memories. In the 'hill valley burned down' timeline, edna seems to remember the previous timeline (including Emmett) even though from her perspective, that timeline has been destroyed for 55 years.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: The original memories. In the 'hill valley burned down' timeline, edna seems to remember the previous timeline (including Emmett) even though from her perspective, that timeline has been destroyed for 55 years.

    Fair enough. I must clarify that this thread is based on the fundamental assumptions that the time traveller's would have BOTH sets of memories...its just a question of which one is dominant.

    So, by extension, as per your viewpoint, Marty would predominantly remember the TP timeline (which does work with what we see in the games)

  • I think that, eventually, the time traveller's memories of the new timeline would be more dominant. Actually, the end of Part III sort of supports my theory - when he commented that his family was "back to normal". My theory is that TP Marty and LP Marty fuse into one person.

    Let's consider this scenario:

    Somehow, TP George ends up going back to 1955 with Marty. TP George just stays at Doc's mansion, while Marty does all the work of getting his parents to meet. Other than TP George being at Doc's mansion, the events of that week mostly match those of the first movie.

    I think, upon returning to 1985, TP George would physically transform to LP George - but, momentarily, have strictly TP George's memories and personality. After some time, though, I think George would not only gain his LP memories - but he would also be a lot more like LP George in personality, while never really losing his memories of being TP George.

  • I think that at first the old memories would be dominant but after a while the memories of the revised timeline would become dominant, although the old memories would never disappear.
    Also I don't think he could ever consider himself the 'new version' whether the new memories are most dominant or not because he would have grown up with different experiences in his life meaning he could never be the same person as the other person.

  • @Marty Mcfly III said: Also I don't think he could ever consider himself the 'new version' whether the new memories are most dominant or not because he would have grown up with different experiences in his life meaning he could never be the same person as the other person.

    I don't really see it that way. You're looking at him as TP Marty with dominant LP Marty memories, but I see him as a complete fusion of the two (with LP Marty's physical appearances and dominant LP Marty's memories). In other words, neither past is "less real" to him.

    I maintain that if TP George went back to 1955 with Marty, the events of the first film remain mostly the same (albeit with TP George in 1955), then he returns to 1985 with Marty - he would eventually become more like LP George (confident and a successful author), but never losing his TP memories.

    I actually did a similar fanfic, where Marty Jr from the 2015 that we see in Part II goes back to 1985. He warns his father about the race with Needles, and convinces his father to overcome his "chicken" problem. After returning to 2015, where Marty's future is brighter, Marty Jr becomes his more confident self (and gains a girlfriend, who he was dating for two years).

  • @Marty Mcfly III said: I think that at first the old memories would be dominant but after a while the memories of the revised timeline would become dominant, although the old memories would never disappear.
    Also I don't think he could ever consider himself the 'new version' whether the new memories are most dominant or not because he would have grown up with different experiences in his life meaning he could never be the same person as the other person.

    To an extent, I kinda agree with that.

    One can possibly argue that the 'newer' version of the time traveller's who travel back to the same point in space-time as a previous version of them is erased...and that the ripple effect, rather than making the original version the new version, merely gives the original version the memories of the new version.

    Then again, bttf4's point about it being a 'complete fusion' also kinda makes sense...since it would be logical for the memories of the 'current' timeline to supercede the old one.

    Here is to my mind a list of observations about Marty and his memories and personality, based on the films and the game-

    1. The day after Marty returns from 1955 (morning of October 26th), he appears to clearly be the TP version exclusively and is shocked by the LP timeline. Although, bear in mind that he is dazed and disoriented and even at first considers the whole 1955 adventure to be a nightmare...so he may well have two sets of memories already without knowing it. He does refer to his truck as the 'new truck'-and yet seems very accepting of the LP version of his parents. His look at them before Doc's return does seem to indicate recognition at least on some sub-concious level.

    2. After Marty has arrived in 2015, he seems to be a subtly different individual from what we saw in BTTF1. No longer is he worried about facing rejection and the fact that he's not cut out for music-he is instead brimming with confidence and is sure he'll be a rich rock star in the future. He has also developed a new aspect to his personality (the 'chicken problem'), which we don't exactly see in BTTF1 (although, the two Bobs have stated that had they planned a trilogy, they would have given him the chicken problem right from the beginning, and he was a wee bit headstrong in the first film as well)-but the 'chicken problem' being due to his new upbringing is too potent a theory to disregard. So I'd say by this point, his personality, is not his memory, is affected by the LP version.

    3. Marty tells Old Biff "George McFly is NO LONGER a loser"-now that statement can be interpreted as meaning he CLEARLY remembers the TP timeline, which is fair enough. A lot of people have erroneously taken it to believe he DOES NOT remember the LP timeline. One thing is clear-Marty, from his POV, believes that George WAS a loser who has now become 'cool'-even though he may technically 'remember' him being cool all along, because he still has his original memories and may even consider them 'more real' than the new ones at this point.

    4. In 1985-A, Marty seems shocked when it appears to him that Lorraine and George have split up...if he remembered only the TP versions, this shouldn't have been TOO surprising for him (that was a really unhappy marriage), which means he very clearly remembers a time when they were happily married (though granted, this is a stretch, but still...)

    5. Upon returning from 1885 in the end, Marty reacts to his LP family as saying "Thank God you're all back to normal" and doesn't in the least seem perturbed or surprised by the LP versions. So clearly, on some subconcious level, he now unquestioningly accepts the LP versions as his 'true family', indicating perhaps that the LP memories are gaining some dominance. He also drives the truck quiet confidantly, as though he knows how to do it and has done it before, so another point in favour of his being LP Marty now.

    6. In Episode 3, Marty clearly refers to the TP versions of George and Lorraine, while explaining the events of the first film to Citizen Brown (indeed the FCB versions do resemble the TP versions, owing to Marty's 1955 trip being erased)...so he definetly remembers them; however he also refers to a photo of LP George as his 'real Dad' or something like that. In Episode 5, Marty seems to lament growing up with a 'milksop' of a father...indicating that on some level, he still considers his TP upbringing to be his 'real' upbringing.

    So based on these points, it seems the argument can go either way

  • You make some very good points, sn939.

    Just one thing I want to mention, though. Marty in Episode Five didn't seem too distraught about growing up with a wimpy George. He just pointed out that that also isn't so great, when young Emmett mentions wishing that he had that kind of father. I think Marty will always remember both timelines clearly, but that the new timeline takes dominance. He probably remembers more fondly his childhood in the LP Timeline.

  • Well what do you think edna remembers in the timeline she destroys hill valley?

    She clearly does remember the previous timeline where she was with emmett but is that the only timeline she'd remember? Let's assume she is still born in the destroyed hill valley timeline; do you think she'd remember the timeline concurrently going on where she's growing up in a different town? Keep in mind for her, that would essentially be remembering the future.

    Consider these 2 timelines (I am somewhat filling in the blanks) let's assume edna is born in 1911 making her 20 in 1931 and 75 in 1986
    in the previous timeline she'd be born in 1911, go back in time from 1931 to 1876 and remain in that timeline and thus be 75 in 1931
    let's assume in the hill valley destroyed timeline edna is still born in 1911 but in a different city (let's say hollywood and we'll call her hollywood edna)
    in 1931 would hill valley Edna have all of hollywood ednas memories all the way up to 1986 (the year hollywood edna is 75)?

    I dont think the memories do merge or overlap; in 1885 doc clearly has NO recollection of his second encounter with marty in 1955 (doesnt remember his silly clothes, sending him back, finding his own tombstomb

  • I think Edna would not remember the No Hill Valley Timeline until the moment that her younger self went back in time. Perhaps, suddenly gaining a new set of memories added to her insanity.

    Also, apparently, the novelization of the third film does have Doc remembering dressing Marty in the "ridiculous outfit" shortly after Marty shows up in 1885 - and even his rationale for it. So that also helps support my theory. Although, whether or not you accept it as canon is up for grabs.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: Well what do you think edna remembers in the timeline she destroys hill valley?

    She clearly does remember the previous timeline where she was with emmett but is that the only timeline she'd remember? Let's assume she is still born in the destroyed hill valley timeline; do you think she'd remember the timeline concurrently going on where she's growing up in a different town? Keep in mind for her, that would essentially be remembering the future.

    Consider these 2 timelines (I am somewhat filling in the blanks) let's assume edna is born in 1911 making her 20 in 1931 and 75 in 1986
    in the previous timeline she'd be born in 1911, go back in time from 1931 to 1876 and remain in that timeline and thus be 75 in 1931
    let's assume in the hill valley destroyed timeline edna is still born in 1911 but in a different city (let's say hollywood and we'll call her hollywood edna)
    in 1931 would hill valley Edna have all of hollywood ednas memories all the way up to 1986 (the year hollywood edna is 75)?

    I dont think the memories do merge or overlap; in 1885 doc clearly has NO recollection of his second encounter with marty in 1955 (doesnt remember his silly clothes, sending him back, finding his own tombstomb

    No, Edna wouldn't remember the 'destroyed Hill Valley' timeline for two reasons-firstly, the ripple effect would only give time traveller's memories of the new timeline once they return to what is supposed to be their present (or at any rate, some point AFTER their present)...Edna never really returned to her present; while she has made it back to 1931, it is through the natural course of time; she is still a temporally displaced person.

    More importantly of course, is that 'destroyed Hill Valley' Edna, if she even existed, would never have travelled back in time and could thus NEVER become 'our' Edna who's trapped in the past...much like how 'our' Marty and Doc in BTTF2 would never really remember the 1985-A timeline, because their 1985-A counterparts never travelled back in time, and thus couldn't logically be their past selves (but would instead be ALTERNATE selves).

    Likewise, I don't think there is any point in BTTF3, in 1885, where Doc remembers Marty's second visit to him in 1955 (the novelisation has got that dead wrong). AFTER he returns to 1985 (or beyond) when he builds the time train, he would gain his new memories (though whether or not he would remember the tombstone, which doesn't exist anymore, is another question entirely).

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