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Worst BTTF paradox (both films and games)

posted by sn939 on - last edited - Viewed by 811 users

We all know that BTTF is chock-full of paradoxes, which may or may not be explained by some convoluted logic...so I decided to start this thread to see which paradox do fans of the series consider to be the very WORST one (most convoluted/most 'unrealistic'/most irresolvable)...

I've also attached a poll to this thread...the options include what I consider some of the worst paradoxes...however if anyone else's 'worst paradox' isn't on the list please feel free to mention it anyway.

Naturally, all discussion on these paradoxes and if they can be resolved is also most welcome.

Here goes...

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  • I dont consider either of the 2 movie paradoxes as such. Yes there's the belief Biff dies by 2015 in his biffhoric timeline which indeed would be a paradox but since the scene is deleted, it is not confirmed.

    The tombstomb paradox isn't any different than any other time travel with the direct intention of changing the timeline


    either of the game paradoxes are fairly big: in the FCB timeline there is clearly no time travel therefore that timeline should not exist. And likewise for the destroyed hill valley. That one is probably the biggest paradox as it's outright proven the time travel from 1931 to 1876 by edna does not happen as there is nobody else in Hill valley.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: I dont consider either of the 2 movie paradoxes as such. Yes there's the belief Biff dies by 2015 in his biffhoric timeline which indeed would be a paradox but since the scene is deleted, it is not confirmed.

    The tombstomb paradox isn't any different than any other time travel with the direct intention of changing the timeline


    either of the game paradoxes are fairly big: in the FCB timeline there is clearly no time travel therefore that timeline should not exist. And likewise for the destroyed hill valley. That one is probably the biggest paradox as it's outright proven the time travel from 1931 to 1876 by edna does not happen as there is nobody else in Hill valley.

    1985-A is logically a paradox since Doc doesn't even INVENT the time machine (or at any rate doesn't complete it, and CERTAINLY doesn't take it to 2015 for Old Biff to steal it, since he's locked up in an asylum). So Biff being dead or not is a moot point actually.

    And I agree...any time travel with the direct intention of changing the timeline logically SHOULD cause a paradox. BTTF takes into account the possibility of the paradox that could be caused by erasing the time traveller's existence...but it doesn't take into account the paradox caused by erasing intent.

    To my mind, the interesting thing about FCB is that it somehow causes even MORE disruption to the space-time continuum than 1985-A...there was no time machine invented in 1985-A, yet Marty's original trip to 1955 still occured in this timeline; however, in the FCB timeline, it is clear than NONE of the previous time travel trips occured (George and Lorraine are clearly based of the TP versions; FCB Doc clearly didn't meet Marty in 1955; Clara died in the ravine)

  • I think you should provide short summaries about these paradoxes in the poll. For example I don't know what the tombstone paradox is.

    For me the biggest paradox is travelling to future and seeing your future self. It is clear that in BTTF there is no prewritten destiny and events have to happen first in order for timeline to get changed. So when you travel, you should become a lost person. Continuum assuming your return and making a copy of you getting old is pretty stupid. Since you haven't 'returned' yet, you simply haven't returned and gotten old.

  • The Tombstone Paradox deals with Marty's trip to 1885.

    When Doc arrives in 1885, he settles in the town, and becomes a blacksmith. He meets Buford Tannen, and they become rivals. Nine months later, Doc writes the letter to Marty, who is still stuck in 1955, explaining how to fix the DeLorean's Time Circuits so he can get back to 1985. He gives the letter to a Western Union Postman to give to Marty in 1955. Doc is shot in the back by Buford at the Clock Tower Festival on September 5th, and dies from internal bleeding sometime on September 7th, 1885.

    70 years later, Marty and 1955 Doc uncover the DeLorean in the Delgado Mine. Marty finds Doc's tombstone, and this inspires him to instead of returning to 1985, go back to 1885 to save his friend.

    Marty saves Doc and the tombstone is erased from the picture, since it was destroyed by Buford smashing into it. This should technically cause a paradox, since Marty never sees the tombstone, and possibly decides to return to 1985 without saving Doc. However, maybe Marty still decides to go back to 1885 to get Doc. Then this wouldn't cause a paradox, since he still goes to 1885. If Marty came back to 1985, there would have been 2 Martys. However since this is not the case, we can safely assume Marty goes back to 1885 anyway, thus a paradox is averted.

  • ...This should technically cause a paradox, since Marty never sees the tombstone, and possibly decides to return to 1985 without saving Doc...

    Thanks for explaining. I was expecting the paradox to be some wrong changes on the stone. I really don't think this is a paradox. Because saying so would be implying that the next altrnates are having the same trips. I believe LP Marty vanishes with his first trip. He doesn't exist to go to 1955, then return 1985, go 2015...go back to 1955 and then see the tombstone and decide to save doc and go to 1885. He just vanishes so he doesn't 'need' to see a tombstone. And the previously happened events are somehow supposed to remain in BTTF I guess.

  • @WareKurt said: The Tombstone Paradox deals with Marty's trip to 1885.

    When Doc arrives in 1885, he settles in the town, and becomes a blacksmith. He meets Buford Tannen, and they become rivals. Nine months later, Doc writes the letter to Marty, who is still stuck in 1955, explaining how to fix the DeLorean's Time Circuits so he can get back to 1985. He gives the letter to a Western Union Postman to give to Marty in 1955. Doc is shot in the back by Buford at the Clock Tower Festival on September 5th, and dies from internal bleeding sometime on September 7th, 1885.

    70 years later, Marty and 1955 Doc uncover the DeLorean in the Delgado Mine. Marty finds Doc's tombstone, and this inspires him to instead of returning to 1985, go back to 1885 to save his friend.

    Marty saves Doc and the tombstone is erased from the picture, since it was destroyed by Buford smashing into it. This should technically cause a paradox, since Marty never sees the tombstone, and possibly decides to return to 1985 without saving Doc. However, maybe Marty still decides to go back to 1885 to get Doc. Then this wouldn't cause a paradox, since he still goes to 1885. If Marty came back to 1985, there would have been 2 Martys. However since this is not the case, we can safely assume Marty goes back to 1885 anyway, thus a paradox is averted.

    My current personal favourite solution to this one is that Marty, after helping Doc uncover the Delorean, goes to the library to look up Doc's life in the Old West. While going through the history books, just like in the previous timeline, he finds the photo of Doc by the Clock Tower, except THIS time, he himself is also in the picture, standing beside Doc. Marty gets the shock of his life, and he and Doc realise that Marty was 'meant' to go back and rescue Doc from 1885. The SPE ensures that Marty makes the exact same time jump backwards. When he does, he is replaced by the version of Marty who DID see the tombstone (just like LP Marty is replaced by TP Marty when he goes back to 1955).

  • @WareKurt said: Thanks for explaining. I was expecting the paradox to be some wrong changes on the stone. I really don't think this is a paradox. Because saying so would be implying that the next altrnates are having the same trips. I believe LP Marty vanishes with his first trip. He doesn't exist to go to 1955, then return 1985, go 2015...go back to 1955 and then see the tombstone and decide to save doc and go to 1885. He just vanishes so he doesn't 'need' to see a tombstone. And the previously happened events are somehow supposed to remain in BTTF I guess.

    There is no question of 'next alternates'. LP Marty gets erased (and I believe he merges with TP Marty later). There is only ONE Marty...but there are different iterations of the timeline (or rather, just different timelines put together). Throughout the movies, we only observe events as they take place in the timeline 'our' Marty is currently in. Early in BTTF3 for instance, Marty is in the Shonash timeline and so we see events as they unfolded in THAT timeline with Marty discovering the tombstone etc.

    However, since we are in the Eastwood timeline for the 1885 portion of the movie, then logically there should also be an Eastwood 1955...and in Eastwood 1955, Marty would have not found the tombstone. We don't know how events unfolded in THAT timeline, and if they resulted in Marty NOT making the trip back to 1885, it would be a paradox.

    Events in the past 'ripple' forward to the future...1955 is the future of 1885...so when Marty breaks the tombstone in 1885, then 70 years in the future, the tombstone wouldn't exist for Marty's past self to find.

  • @sn939 said: 1985-A is logically a paradox since Doc doesn't even INVENT the time machine (or at any rate doesn't complete it, and CERTAINLY doesn't take it to 2015 for Old Biff to steal it, since he's locked up in an asylum). So Biff being dead or not is a moot point actually.

    And I agree...any time travel with the direct intention of changing the timeline logically SHOULD cause a paradox. BTTF takes into account the possibility of the paradox that could be caused by erasing the time traveller's existence...but it doesn't take into account the paradox caused by erasing intent.

    To my mind, the interesting thing about FCB is that it somehow causes even MORE disruption to the space-time continuum than 1985-A...there was no time machine invented in 1985-A, yet Marty's original trip to 1955 still occured in this timeline; however, in the FCB timeline, it is clear than NONE of the previous time travel trips occured (George and Lorraine are clearly based of the TP versions; FCB Doc clearly didn't meet Marty in 1955; Clara died in the ravine)

    Actually it's never proven the time machine doesn't get invented in the Biffhoric timeline. Doc goes to the institution in 1983 and given that he's already seen the finished delorean in 1955 it may not take as long to build but he knows it is not meant to time travel until 1985. So you could argue he escapes to ensure this still happens. Though I doubt in the same manner we see.

    Are you sure the 1955 time travels still happen in FCB's timeline? The 1885 one clearly didnt. There is the theory that the flying delorean crashes into the billoard due to the 2015 time travel not happening. I'd think the 1955 time travels are erased as FCB is implying he's meeting Marty for the first time (remember marty uses his own name in 1955). Now I think this is a paradox because there is evidence the previous 1931 time travels still DID happen in this timeline; doc and marty are still in FCB's picture, when they eventually go back to 1931, people remember who Carl Sagan and "Marty's alias" are. And of course the FCB timeline is a result of time travel.

    I'm currently replaying all the episodes (partway through episode 2). When I get to episode 3 I'll see if I can figure out if Biff still gets punched out by George.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: Actually it's never proven the time machine doesn't get invented in the Biffhoric timeline. Doc goes to the institution in 1983 and given that he's already seen the finished delorean in 1955 it may not take as long to build but he knows it is not meant to time travel until 1985. So you could argue he escapes to ensure this still happens. Though I doubt in the same manner we see.

    Are you sure the 1955 time travels still happen in FCB's timeline? The 1885 one clearly didnt. There is the theory that the flying delorean crashes into the billoard due to the 2015 time travel not happening. I'd think the 1955 time travels are erased as FCB is implying he's meeting Marty for the first time (remember marty uses his own name in 1955). Now I think this is a paradox because there is evidence the previous 1931 time travels still DID happen in this timeline; doc and marty are still in FCB's picture, when they eventually go back to 1931, people remember who Carl Sagan and "Marty's alias" are. And of course the FCB timeline is a result of time travel.

    I'm currently replaying all the episodes (partway through episode 2). When I get to episode 3 I'll see if I can figure out if Biff still gets punched out by George.

    I said clearly that the 1955 travels DID not happen in the FCB timeline...George and Lorraine are based off the depressed, loser TP versions. Marty in fact even comments on how everything he did to make them successful (in the LP timeline) has been erased. He also tells Biff that George never did anything to him in this timeline (so the punch did not occur).

    The 1931 travels happened simply because I believe they were necessary in the creation of the FCB timeline. I believe the 1955 travels were erased, because the timeline was severely altered prior to Marty's arrival on November 5th 1955, such that it was impossible for him to arrive in that timeline. Logically, since the second 1955 trip was erased, the 1885 trips are erased as well, since one led to the other...But then shouldn't the 1931 trips be erased because the 1986 Marty comes from no longer exists?

    This is confusing as hell.

  • This is confusing as hell.

    We should stop trying to make sense of BTTF one of these days, it just doesn't make sense :D

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