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Ripple effect works backwards in time as well?

posted by sn939 on - last edited - Viewed by 3.4K 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
  • Time Travel effects are what we make them :D its not like we can test them out yet hehe

    There are many things that doesnt seem logical.

    Lets say you went to the future right now this very minute, you could not possible meet yourself?. Because the moment you leave this timezone or timeline, you vanish for history, So there is no future you to meet.



    Something ive always been thinking about is this, If you take the delorean and send it 1 min into the future, you catch up with it.



    My best guess is the reason there isnt alot of paradoxes is because you dont really change what happen in the current reality as such, when they make a change in the past, the create a new branch so to speak. history took another course, the original path is still there., thats how ive always thought it was. Because like when doc is illustrating on that board in the garage, they have created another branch of history the Hell hill valley.


    We may never know in real life, but assuming we can go back in the future and such, it would seem wierd if changes would happen instantly, time is time after all. Its kinda hard to get my head around, im not that smart lol. But for me atleast it would seem logical that it would take some amount of time before the changes surfaces, depending on how far back they are changed, but then again it could just change instantly.

    If there is one thing ive learned from the Movies BTTF, i honestly dont think we should ever hope or wish to invent time machine, yeah i know we probably all have someone who has died we wish we could change. But man oh man seriously the amount of mess and misuse that could happen.

    I think that time machine is one of those things that the world would be better without, like say the Atomic bomb.

    If time travel really is possible, from what we guess, it takes like nothing to change the entire course of history, its like one person dying could result in all crazy stuff.

    Like say going back in time to stop hitler, that might seem fine on paper. But again maybe it would be good, maybe all the countries would still be at war with each other today, maybe someone even worse would have come along.

    It would be kinda cool and spooky to to 1000 years into the future, and hopefully see that humans have finally stopped ruining the planet, or maybe we arent even there anymore, because of World War 3.

    Thinking to much about time travel makes my head hurt lol

  • @RMJ1984 said: Time Travel effects are what we make them :D its not like we can test them out yet hehe

    There are many things that doesnt seem logical.

    Lets say you went to the future right now this very minute, you could not possible meet yourself?. Because the moment you leave this timezone or timeline, you vanish for history, So there is no future you to meet.

    Something ive always been thinking about is this, If you take the delorean and send it 1 min into the future, you catch up with it.

    I guess the films rationale is what the intentions and most likely scenarios are; in einsteins case, he was never intended to go back and relive that minute hence why there is no duplicate of him. But Marty and Jennifer are intended to return to their original timelines hence why they can exist in the future and nothing threatens this. Also keep in mind they spent exactly 3 hours in the 2015 but returned 9 hours after they left so they technically were still in the future but there doesnt appear to be duplicate versions of them.

    My best guess is the reason there isnt alot of paradoxes is because you dont really change what happen in the current reality as such, when they make a change in the past, the create a new branch so to speak. history took another course, the original path is still there., thats how ive always thought it was. Because like when doc is illustrating on that board in the garage, they have created another branch of history the Hell hill valley.


    We may never know in real life, but assuming we can go back in the future and such, it would seem wierd if changes would happen instantly, time is time after all. Its kinda hard to get my head around, im not that smart lol. But for me atleast it would seem logical that it would take some amount of time before the changes surfaces, depending on how far back they are changed, but then again it could just change instantly.
    [QUOTE/] Theres a few theories on this subject
    1) Like you said the timeline looks like a tree on its side; every diversion caused due to time travel creates a new branch. Only it's impossible to hop from one branch to another unless you fix the diversion (ie burning the almanac in 1955 although you could argue this creates a new branch similar an older one with slight changes)
    2) every timeline is its own dimension. So I go back in time and stop my birth, I return to the present essentially as an alien to this timeline as I wasnt born there. You could argue this is the theory back to the future uses although it is implied Marty would have faded out completel without his parents
    3) everyone still has a direct timeline even with time travel. Marty's timeline would go as follows; birth in 1968 to 1985 - 1955-2015-1985-1955-1885-1985 to 1986-1931 (and back again)-1876-1931-1986-unknown time. And he always goes through all the alternate timelines we see
    4) the timeline is constant like in lost or 12 monkeys or terminator 1; if you havent seen the first terminator film, John Connor (born 1985) sends Kyle reese from 2029 to 1984 to save his mother sarahs life annd he in turn pregnantes sarah to become Johns mother. In this theory it is impossible to have alternate timeliens or paradoxes [QUOTE]
    If there is one thing ive learned from the Movies BTTF, i honestly dont think we should ever hope or wish to invent time machine, yeah i know we probably all have someone who has died we wish we could change. But man oh man seriously the amount of mess and misuse that could happen.

    I think that time machine is one of those things that the world would be better without, like say the Atomic bomb.

    If time travel really is possible, from what we guess, it takes like nothing to change the entire course of history, its like one person dying could result in all crazy stuff.

    Like say going back in time to stop hitler, that might seem fine on paper. But again maybe it would be good, maybe all the countries would still be at war with each other today, maybe someone even worse would have come along.
    It would be kinda cool and spooky to to 1000 years into the future, and hopefully see that humans have finally stopped ruining the planet, or maybe we arent even there anymore, because of World War 3.

    Thinking to much about time travel makes my head hurt lol

    I can guarantee you that if you went back in time and killed hitler, there'd be plenty of people whom lived longer lives and extra people born but there'd also be people whom died earlier or were never born. Think about this; if hitler died in say 1935 instead of 1945, the baby boomer era wouldnt have happened (people having more babies essentially to repopulate). My father was born in 1958 (the tail end of the baby boomers) as the youngest of five children so it's quite possible that if Hitler were never born, I never would be either.

  • Everything we've seen in the trilogy (and the Game) implies that there are no 'parallel universes/timeline'...there is only ONE timeline that keeps getting rewritten everytime someone goes back and changes things.

    If the Hell Valley timeline 'branched of' from the Lone Pine timeline, there would have been two parallel 2015's...with Marty and Doc stranded in Lone Pine 2015 and Old Biff returning to Hell Valley 2015. There is NO WAY Marty and Old Biff could have been in the same 2015 under the parallel timelines theory. Instead, what Bob Gale himself said happened is that when Old Biff went back, LP 2015 transformed into Hell Valley 2015 around Marty, Doc and Jennifer. Since the three were time traveler's who did not belong to 2015, the ripple effect did not change them (the 2015 Marty however would have been changed into his Hell Valley counterpart).

    You're right about everyone having a personal timeline...which may involve trips to multiple timeline. That's the case with Marty. Marty grows up in the 'Twin Pines' timeline with loser parents, goes back to 1955 creating the 'Lone Pine' timeline, returns to 1985, travels to 2015, then returns to 'Hell Valley' 1985, goes back in time AGAIN to 1955 creating a revised Lone Pine timeline, then is shifted into Shonash 1955 when Doc gets struck by lightning, and creates the final 'Eastwood' timeline by going back to 1885 and saving Doc, before returning to 1985.

    Taking the Game into account-Marty lives for six months in the Eastwood timeline (though unknown to him, it has already changed into a timeline where Doc was killed in 1931). He then goes back to June 1931 creating a new timeline where Doc is saved, goes back again a few hours creating ANOTHER timeline to save his grandfather, returns to 1986 to see Tannen Mob rule the town, goes back to August 1931 creating the Citizen Brown timeline, returns to 1986, then goes back to October 1931, creating YET another timeline, gets shifted into an alternate 1931 in which Hill Valley doesn't exist, and finally goes back to 1876 creating the final timeline, with brief stopover in 1931 and finally returning to 1986.

    Thus Marty, between the movies and the Games, has spent at least some time in around 18-20 different timelines...and he remembers his experiences in all of them. Many of those timelines no longer exist in ANY form, but Marty remembers them because he visited them WHEN they existed (in meta-time). In that sense, a semblance of the parallel timelines theory IS created wherein Marty traverses multiple realities, but instead of travelling to different timelines per se, he simply witnesses the changing of one timeline into another, being aware of the fact either because he is the cause of the change, or because he is outside 1985/6 and therefore unaffected by the ripple effect.

  • @Emo Hoe said: I think it makes perfect sense the future ripple can effect the past where time travellers are involved.

    We interact with 1931 Emmett and alter his future; saving Clara is part of his future, not his past. By changing his future he never went to the past to save Clara. Its a slight spin on the old paradox of going back in time and shooting your grandfather; if you killed him you wouldn't be born so then you couldn't of killed him so you would be born.

    tl;dr: Saving Clara may be a past event in terms of chronological date; however in terms of Doc's life in chronological order it is part of Emmett's future, which allows the future altering ripple to tweak the past.

    but there are a lot of things that get changed which changes the fact that marty went back to 1955 in the first place, bttf 2 is one example, also the tannen crime family timeline had no marty going back cause he was chased out of hill valley years before but george still hits biff in 1955, but it shouldn't have happened as they changed marty's future as well as changing doc's, even tho it was an alternate marty, so why does 1885 change in FCB timeline but not 1955 in tannen crime family timeline? makes no sense to me, 1885 should stay the same just like 1955 does

  • [QUOTE=Emo Hoe;544765]Marty's 1955 actions are integral to the Biff timeline; yes its a paradox but it still stands: Erase Marty's actions from 1955 = Doc is dead = Doc never goes to the future = Old Biff can't go back in time. Marty in 1955 has to be sustained in order for it to be possible for Biff's actions to have happened.

    but in the hell valley timeline doc doesn't go to the future either, he gets committed, also marty never goes to the past in that timeline, doesn't go to 2015 either, which means its impossible for old biff to go back, so your logic is flawed

  • @russell19831983 said: but there are a lot of things that get changed which changes the fact that marty went back to 1955 in the first place, bttf 2 is one example, also the tannen crime family timeline had no marty going back cause he was chased out of hill valley years before but george still hits biff in 1955, but it shouldn't have happened as they changed marty's future as well as changing doc's, even tho it was an alternate marty, so why does 1885 change in FCB timeline but not 1955 in tannen crime family timeline? makes no sense to me, 1885 should stay the same just like 1955 does

    marty from part I is still in 1955 during the biffhoric timeline of part II

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: marty from part I is still in 1955 during the biffhoric timeline of part II

    He's referring to the Tannen Mob ruled alternate timeline in Episode 2 of the game. This timeline diverged from 1931, yet Marty apparently still showed up in 1955 because George still punched out Biff.

  • @sn939 said: He's referring to the Tannen Mob ruled alternate timeline in Episode 2 of the game. This timeline diverged from 1931, yet Marty apparently still showed up in 1955 because George still punched out Biff.

    Interesting debate because this also seems to be the first timeline where Biff figures out it was in fact Marty whom caused him to crash into a manure truck BEFORE 2015 (this is referenced). So it's possible that time travel still existed in this timeline although it's indicated he crashes into a manure truck (singular) so it's possible the second trip to 1955 was erased (perhaps 2015's travels were erased). You could argue this is figured out between 1985 and 1986.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: Interesting debate because this also seems to be the first timeline where Biff figures out it was in fact Marty whom caused him to crash into a manure truck BEFORE 2015 (this is referenced). So it's possible that time travel still existed in this timeline although it's indicated he crashes into a manure truck (singular) so it's possible the second trip to 1955 was erased (perhaps 2015's travels were erased). You could argue this is figured out between 1985 and 1986.

    Yeah, you may have a point there. Maybe Doc DID succeed in developing the time machine in this timeline, and the Marty of this timeline DID go back to 1955, and some variation of the events of BTTF1 occurred.

    In fact...and this is an interesting thought...it might explain the absence of this timeline's Marty. Jennifer didn't exist in this timeline...therefore its likely that Marty wouldn't have kept the Clock Tower flyer with him. The Clock Tower flyer is the way 'our' Marty learned about the lightning bolt and returned to 1985. So could it be possible that this alternate Marty was stranded in 1955...so, somewhere in Episode 2, in the alternate 1986, we would have a 48 year old 'Calvin Klien' hanging around. Alternatively, maybe Marty DID make it back to 1985, but because he and the Doc of this timeline were presumably on the run from the Tannens, maybe they escaped to some other time...which explains why there's no sign of either of them in 1986!

  • @sn939 said: Yeah, you may have a point there. Maybe Doc DID succeed in developing the time machine in this timeline, and the Marty of this timeline DID go back to 1955, and some variation of the events of BTTF1 occurred.

    In fact...and this is an interesting thought...it might explain the absence of this timeline's Marty. Jennifer didn't exist in this timeline...therefore its likely that Marty wouldn't have kept the Clock Tower flyer with him. The Clock Tower flyer is the way 'our' Marty learned about the lightning bolt and returned to 1985. So could it be possible that this alternate Marty was stranded in 1955...so, somewhere in Episode 2, in the alternate 1986, we would have a 48 year old 'Calvin Klien' hanging around. Alternatively, maybe Marty DID make it back to 1985, but because he and the Doc of this timeline were presumably on the run from the Tannens, maybe they escaped to some other time...which explains why there's no sign of either of them in 1986!

    or another theory (not sure if the timeline would work like this)

    biff did in fact crash into the same manure truck twice (hence why they refer to it as a singular event), the second time he sees the flying delorean with marty hanging onto it. 1985 rolls around and he sees the same delorean flying again and disappear into thin air. Now this theory could be flawed in the sense that the one scene with Biff in part III he doesn't let on that he knows anything or discuss what he saw the day before.

    But it's not that big of a leap for Biff to have figured out something was askew (especially if he does remember Calvin Klein visually, for instance if any photos remained from the dance). Calvin Klein shows up, befriends loner George McFly, seemingly sets up George with a girl who likes him (Lorraine). A week later, an old man shows up with a book showing the future, Calvin Klein goes after him on a flying board and steals the book (twice actually) and climbs on a flying vehicle before never being seen again. 30 years later when Marty looks exactly like Calvin Klein, he takes off in a flying delorean. Who knows, maybe the picture of Marty and Doc at the clock tower in 1885 still exists 100 years later (we know it does in 1955) and that could have been the final piece. He definitely has enough pieces to solve the puzzle, it just depends if he's the capacity. Biff also does have information about Doc Brown that we haven't seen, even though they are never in the same frame during the trilog or interact, Biff obviously knows who doc brown is by 2015 and thus may by 1985 have also figured out it was doc who built the time machine.

    Also doc does shout "hold on MARTY" when saving him from biff in 1955.

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