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Ripple effect works backwards in time as well?

posted by sn939 on - last edited - Viewed by 4.2K 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
  • @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.

  • @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!

    alternate marty is doing a mathemagics competition in FCB timeline, thats why he's absent

  • @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.

    i was referring to both. 1955 stayed the same no matter what happens in the past or future, so 1885 should not change either

  • @russell19831983 said: i was referring to both. 1955 stayed the same no matter what happens in the past or future, so 1885 should not change either

    How do you figure? 1931 clearly changed based on what happened in 1876 so why do you feel the same wouldn't happen with 1955? It's obvious the 1955 time travel did not happen in the FCB timeline or else FCB would have remembered Marty.

  • i meant in bttf 2 the movie 1955 still happened even tho marty couldn't have time travelled in that timeline, also in bttf the game episode 2 in the biff tannen timeline 1955 still remained the same even tho marty never time travelled either so it doesn't make sense that the FCB timeline erased all time travels but the 1931 ones

  • @russell19831983 said: i meant in bttf 2 the movie 1955 still happened even tho marty couldn't have time travelled in that timeline, also in bttf the game episode 2 in the biff tannen timeline 1955 still remained the same even tho marty never time travelled either so it doesn't make sense that the FCB timeline erased all time travels but the 1931 ones

    it's not confirmed that the tannen crime timeline erased the time travels. A lot could have happened between october 1985 and may 1986

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: 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.

    I do believe this is what happened at the end of the trilogy...in the final timeline, when Biff saw the Delorean disappearing in the air, he would remember the events of 1955 and all the strange suspicions he's always had about Marty and his curious resemblance to a certain 'Calvin Klien'. However he likely keeps his knowledge to himself, for fear of being considered insane, and also presumably, for fear of incurring Marty and/or Doc's wrath.

    @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: it's not confirmed that the tannen crime timeline erased the time travels. A lot could have happened between october 1985 and may 1986

    True. The Tannen timeline is in fact the alternate timeline we know the least about. All we know is that Jennifer doesn't exist because her grandfather Danny Parker didn't marry his girlfriend, that Kid Tannen was never arrested and went on to have three sons and spread a reign of terror throughout Hill Valley for over a half-century, and that the Marty of this timeline has been on the run for two years.

    There is certainly the implication that the 1955 trip DID happen in some form, since George and Lorraine appear to be the Lone Pine versions, and the manure truck crash and George punching out Biff are clearly mentioned. But to what extent could the events of 1955 have unfolded as depicted in the movie, given how the years 1931 to 1955 would have been very different for Hill Valley than in the original timeline...

  • @sn939 said: I do believe this is what happened at the end of the trilogy...in the final timeline, when Biff saw the Delorean disappearing in the air, he would remember the events of 1955 and all the strange suspicions he's always had about Marty and his curious resemblance to a certain 'Calvin Klien'. However he likely keeps his knowledge to himself, for fear of being considered insane, and also presumably, for fear of incurring Marty and/or Doc's wrath.

    True. The Tannen timeline is in fact the alternate timeline we know the least about. All we know is that Jennifer doesn't exist because her grandfather Danny Parker didn't marry his girlfriend, that Kid Tannen was never arrested and went on to have three sons and spread a reign of terror throughout Hill Valley for over a half-century, and that the Marty of this timeline has been on the run for two years.

    There is certainly the implication that the 1955 trip DID happen in some form, since George and Lorraine appear to be the Lone Pine versions, and the manure truck crash and George punching out Biff are clearly mentioned. But to what extent could the events of 1955 have unfolded as depicted in the movie, given how the years 1931 to 1955 would have been very different for Hill Valley than in the original timeline...

    Also consider that Biffs existance should have been altered, this would go towards the 'space time continuum preseravation theory' in the normal timelines with Kid going to prison, Biff is conceived during an escape, it must have happened a different way but at the same time in the Tannen crime timeline.

  • The thing that makes sense to me, is the Ripple Effect. To know what rate it travels at is the key to it all. And it travels into the past along With the time travelers. It's to reconcile changes in history. It could travel slowly rather than instantaneously. They can get ahead of it by leaving a time before it catches up to that particular date, but it Will eventually catch up to them. And when it Does catch up, if they haven't resolved something yet, they fade out of existence. Then the paradox is the feared result, but actually Helps. Cause if Marty didn't exist as a result of meeting his parents, eventually he wouldn't be able to travel back either. And things would return to normal until it loops back around to him going back. Any change that negates itself will continue in a loop until a decision on one of the go-arounds breaks the cycle and resolves the contradiction. This is the only way Back to the Future can make sense at all. I estimate that a regular ripple travels forward in time at a rate of 2 years a minute. That's fast enough to change 1985 but not 2015 in the time it took Biff to return after stealing the Delorean. And for the other party to go back to 1985 from there and not see changes right away. And for changes that appear instantaneous, I think of it in this way. History would keep flip flopping between the changes they made, until it was resolved to a non-contradictory end. But I guess the way they did it, they either didn't care or thought that literature, published a certain amount of time prior to them looking at it, would be altered before the people reading it would.

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