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Ripple effect works backwards in time as well?

posted by sn939 on - last edited - Viewed by 3K users

Again, this is nitpicking, but a LOT of stuff on BTTF forums IS nitpicking after all!

Basically, this is about the Citizen Brown timeline, and more to the point, its history.

In a throwaway line in Ep 4, FCB Doc mentions having a secret lab at Clayton Ravine...at which point Marty mentions Clara and tells FCB Doc about how she's supposed to be his wife in the other timeline(s). From the naming of the ravine, the obvious implication is that since the Delorean was never invented in this timeline, Doc never travelled back to 1885 and thus the original sequence of events, with Clara falling into the ravine, was restored. And on the surface it makes perfect sense...considering the fact that there is other evidence of the 'original histories' being restored; for instance, George and Lorraine are back to their loser selves from the original Twin Pines timeline, since they were never influenced by Marty in 1955. And yet, it seems to conflict with how the ripple effect, and alternate timelines, are portrayed in the trilogy...

Now, based on my understanding of the trilogy, the implication is that at any given point of time, the future is 'not written', and that the actions of a time traveller from the future (or with knowledge of the future) can change the course of the future (i.e. his/her past). As the future changes, objects brought back from the future (photos, newspapers etc) are changed by the 'ripple effect' to reflect the new timeline...and in extreme cases, people from the future may be erased from existence if they do not exist in the 'new future' (as Marty nearly was in BTTF1). The idea is that the ripple effect changes the future and affects objects and people from the future. So, if in 1955, something is done to change 1985, then the ripple effect moves forward from 1985, altering 1985, as well as objects in 1955 which originate from 1985.

However, I think the 1955 segment of BTTF2 clearly implies that while the time traveller, while in the past, can change the future, he cannot change anything in the past from BEFORE his 'arrival point' in the past. This explains why we see Marty from BTTF1 in the background in BTTF2. Old Biff arrived on the morning of November 12th 1955, and his actions radically altered 1985, such that the Delorean was never invented and Marty never travelled back in time...yet, this did not erase the actions of Marty from the original timeline since November 5th 1955 onwards, because Marty's arrival on Nov. 5th, his interfering with his parents meeting, the manure truck crash et all are all part of the 'past' at the point when Old Biff has arrived in 1955...his actions do not affect events prior to the morning of November 12th 1955.

And yet, the Game contradicts this...how? Simply by saying that Clara died falling into the ravine in 1885, in the FCB timeline.

Look at it this way. Marty and Doc arrived in 1931. Their actions in 1931 inadvertently altered 1986, erasing Doc and Einstien in the process as well. Their actions in 1931 also alter ALL the years after 1931, including 1955 (which explains why George and Lorraine have reverted to their 'Twin Pines' incarnations). Fair enough.

But WHY would a divergence created in 1931, alter 1885, a point in time which PRECEDES the divergence? In other words, why would the ripple effect, which usually movesforward in time and changes the future, suddenly move backward in time and change the past? It doesn't make sense.

If we go by the evidence of the game, then logically, when young Emmett hooks up with Edna, 1931 Hill Valley would spontaneously start transforming! The name of the ravine would suddenly change from Eastwood Ravine to Clayton Ravine, Doc's letter with the Western Union would disappear as would the Delorean buried in the Delgado Mine, the pictures of Doc (and Marty) by the newly constructed clocktower, taken in 1885, should also disappear from the book in the library...without anyone noticing anything!

It makes sense for photographs and newspapers from 1986 to start changing, because these objects represent the future, which is not written...but why would objects from the PAST change?

38 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @ryannumber1gamer said: everyone the delorean was gonna be erased from time because in episode 5 u can see it all broken down when ur at endas shack thats because enda didnt treat it well and the timeline catching up with it and when u place the flux overrides on endas delorean doc says the timeline was catching up to it faster now (and i know he says something different but this means the same thing)

    they don't really have to worry about the timeline catching up during the chase. They are already at the furthest point back of time travel (1876) so they basically have all time time in the world to stop edna providing she doesn't reach 88 miles per hour.

    I initially thought Docs delorean could have been a future version of ednas but it would have been erased in the burnt down hill valley since we see what becomes of ednas delorean by 1931

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: they don't really have to worry about the timeline catching up during the chase. They are already at the furthest point back of time travel (1876) so they basically have all time time in the world to stop edna providing she doesn't reach 88 miles per hour.

    I initially thought Docs delorean could have been a future version of ednas but it would have been erased in the burnt down hill valley since we see what becomes of ednas delorean by 1931

    Yeah, you have a point there. Still, I'm not really sure it was the 'timeline catching up to the Delorean' that erased it. If that were the case, then the wreck of the Delorean should have been erased in the Burnt Hill Valley timeline WELL before Doc and Marty met the old and crazed Edna (the ripple effect WOULD have caught up somewhere in the course of 55 years!) Of course, truth be told, pretty much EVERYONE (Marty, Doc, BOTH Deloreans, and Edna herself) should logically have been erased in that timeline...the continuum was REALLY screwed up with that timeline.

    I still think Edna's Delorean faded because it was inherently unstable to begin with, being a temporal duplicate whose 'personal' timeline had been erased several times over...and being forcibly pulled through time just accelerated the process of its disintegration.

    And Doc's Delorean is not the future 'self' of Edna's Delorean...it is best described as an alternate PAST self...in that Doc's Delorean has not been on ANY of the 1931 trips (at least, not the ones we know off from the first few episodes of the Game)...or, it could simply be a completely DIFFERENT Delorean (not a temporal duplicate of the original, but an entirely new car built by Doc when he moved his family back to the 80's).

  • i think its because of the timeline because u can notice ever since episode 3 its been getting worst by the minute like it cant fly after the crash in ep 4 the time circets become bad and un able to work right and doc said in ep 5 that the timeline or something was catching up to endas deloran faster now

  • I think it's just a matter of time (or meta-time). We know that events changing the future don't change things immediately, thus why Marty and Doc always have some window of opportunity to set things right before they get erased from existence. We also know not all changes seem to effect time at the same rate, giving a lot of license to the writers. Marty destroys his family? A photograph slowly fades over the course of a week. Marty restores his family? The picture goes back to full in a matter of seconds.

    Things like parts of the DeLorean going wrong, or certain 19th century effects of time travel disappearing while Marty retains his memories stretch things a bit more than what we saw in the movies, perhaps, but they're an expansion rather than something all-new.

  • @JoshuaJSlone said: I think it's just a matter of time (or meta-time). We know that events changing the future don't change things immediately, thus why Marty and Doc always have some window of opportunity to set things right before they get erased from existence. We also know not all changes seem to effect time at the same rate, giving a lot of license to the writers. Marty destroys his family? A photograph slowly fades over the course of a week. Marty restores his family? The picture goes back to full in a matter of seconds.

    Things like parts of the DeLorean going wrong, or certain 19th century effects of time travel disappearing while Marty retains his memories stretch things a bit more than what we saw in the movies, perhaps, but they're an expansion rather than something all-new.

    Yeah, you have a point there.

    But still, there are at least semi-plausible explanations for those scenarios. Marty's family takes a week to fade from the picture because the probability of George and Lorraine getting together was steadily declining over the course of the week...whereas the probability of the Marty and his siblings being born snaps back to 100% the moment they DO get together, and hence the picture is restored to normal in a second.

    But in this case, the 1885 travels being erased directly contradicts the evidence of BTTF2, where Marty's trip to 1955 from BTTF1 still 'happened' before Marty had arrived prior to the divergence caused by Biff's trip.

    However, your last sentence of the game 'stretching' things more than the movies did might provide a clue to this conundrum...we can simply assume that this time, the space-time continuum was SO f&cked up (with Doc not even coming up with the IDEA of time travel), that history was altered in inexplicable ways, causing the ripple effect to even move BACKWARDS from the point of divergence.

  • @sn939 said: Marty's trip to 1955 from BTTF1 still 'happened' before Marty had arrived prior to the divergence caused by Biff's trip.

    Then, when old Biff began the creation of the Hell Valley Timeline by giving the almanac to Young Biff, shouldn't Twin Pines Marty have returned to the Biffhoriffic 1985A timeline, instead of the Lone Pines Version? That should surely cause a paradox!

  • @sn939 said: Yeah, you have a point there.

    But still, there are at least semi-plausible explanations for those scenarios. Marty's family takes a week to fade from the picture because the probability of George and Lorraine getting together was steadily declining over the course of the week...whereas the probability of the Marty and his siblings being born snaps back to 100% the moment they DO get together, and hence the picture is restored to normal in a second.

    But in this case, the 1885 travels being erased directly contradicts the evidence of BTTF2, where Marty's trip to 1955 from BTTF1 still 'happened' before Marty had arrived prior to the divergence caused by Biff's trip.

    However, your last sentence of the game 'stretching' things more than the movies did might provide a clue to this conundrum...we can simply assume that this time, the space-time continuum was SO f&cked up (with Doc not even coming up with the IDEA of time travel), that history was altered in inexplicable ways, causing the ripple effect to even move BACKWARDS from the point of divergence.

    Not quite actually; the reason it takes a week is because the critical junction point for George and Lorraine falling in love is the dance (which is a week away). Specifically the kiss on the dance floor; notice the picture starts fading at a faster rate the closer they get to it. One George kisses Lorraine that restores the timeline.

    It's pretty much the same scenario as the tombstomb in part III: In the original timeline doc is shot on the 4th, dies on the 7th. Once Marty prevents Buford from shooting doc on the 4th, his name is erased from the tombstomb but the tombstomb and date itself are still there (this is the next tombstomb to be used with the 7th being the most likely date for the death given the duel). Once marty starts to attempt to back out, the most likely scenario is 'clint eastwood.' Once the tombstomb is destroyed it fades from the picture.

  • @zelda42293 said: Then, when old Biff began the creation of the Hell Valley Timeline by giving the almanac to Young Biff, shouldn't Twin Pines Marty have returned to the Biffhoriffic 1985A timeline, instead of the Lone Pines Version? That should surely cause a paradox!

    That's quiet an interesting idea. In fact, I once read a great fanfic about it.

    But personally...I really don't think so. I think TP Marty ALWAYS travels to the LP timeline (or any of its variations) after departing from 1985-A...which means that from the POV of the Hell Valley timeline, TP Marty simply drops out of existence the moment the lightining bolt hits the Clock Tower at 10:04 PM.

    @zelda42293 said: Not quite actually; the reason it takes a week is because the critical junction point for George and Lorraine falling in love is the dance (which is a week away). Specifically the kiss on the dance floor; notice the picture starts fading at a faster rate the closer they get to it. One George kisses Lorraine that restores the timeline.

    It's pretty much the same scenario as the tombstomb in part III: In the original timeline doc is shot on the 4th, dies on the 7th. Once Marty prevents Buford from shooting doc on the 4th, his name is erased from the tombstomb but the tombstomb and date itself are still there (this is the next tombstomb to be used with the 7th being the most likely date for the death given the duel). Once marty starts to attempt to back out, the most likely scenario is 'clint eastwood.' Once the tombstomb is destroyed it fades from the picture.

    You've said pretty much the same thing I have in a different way.

  • I can't take the complexities of time traveling anymore...

    *stuffs 9mm in mouth and blows out his brains all over the back wall*

  • Actually, what makes time travel in BTTF so complex is the fact that it doesn't really follow any sort of time travel theory per se...it just goes with anything that drives the plot.

    Bob Gale admitted as much in the official FAQ-the only reason why Marty and Jennifer's future selves are present when they skip 30 years is because they needed to exist to drive the whole plot line of Marty's future life being messed up.

    They totally ignored numerous paradoxes (like the time machine NOT BEING INVENTED, for starters) just to show us the whole horrifying reality of 1985-A.

    And it works! From the POV of plot and character development, and emotional appeal, it works wonders! It's why this series has become as great and as loved as it is!

    But...when you treat it as a time travel movie and sit down and actually try to make sense of it...it starts to fall apart after a while...unless you can do some REALLY screwy logical arithmetic in your head and come up with some kind of halfway workable theory.

    And the Game actually DOES seem to support some of the popular fan theories about how time travel in BTTF works...but alternatively, it just confuses things further at times by seemingly departing from the logic implied by the films.

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