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Movie Paradox that nobody mentions

posted by Rogers on - last edited - Viewed by 3.3K users

I have kept this to myself for about a year, mostly because the semantics necessary to describe this are beyond me...but here it goes.

From movie 2 onwards, there is an atrocious paradox. This is because of the trip to 2015, and the subsequent events that was caused by this. Basically, we have the following events happen in sequence:

-Doc and Marty go to 2015 where Future Marty was in a car accident.
-Old Biff goes to 1955, Doc and Marty follow and get the Almanac back,
-Lightning sends the Delorean to the old West, Marty follows.
-Marty overcomes his "chicken" phobia in the West and goes back to 1985
-Marty with new experiences does not get in a car accident.

This means that the 2015 from movie 2 is erased and Future Marty is no longer a loser. This means Marty Jr. will grow up better and there is no need for Doc to bring Marty to 2015. Biff never sees the almanac/time machine and he doesn't go to 1955 to meet his younger self. This means Marty doesn't go to the Wild West and never gets over his "chicken phobia", but this means that the 2015 with loser Future Marty DOES exist...

So, this is a complete paradox, as bad as there being a Carl Sagan in FCB's timeline.

91 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • You don't really get how Time Travel works in the movies, do you?

  • What's that supposed to mean? Care to elaborate?

  • For one thing it's been brought up several times including the movies;
    during part II the biffhoric timeline Doc indicates they can't go back to 2015 and stop Biff from stealing the time machine because it's a different timeline.

  • They don't address it at all. Let's put it this way: What if Marty shot Biff to death in 1985 after the third movie? That Biff could never become Old Biff, and Old Biff can therefore never start the chain of events that leads to the Wild West. This would erase everything after the first movie, which means that Biff would again be alive. This is an infinite paradoxical loop, and it's the same as Marty changing the future by not getting in an accident.

  • I agree that logically it WOULD be a paradox (as would be a LOT of other things in BTTF2 and 3), but the way time travel is presented in the movies, I don't think it would be such a problem.

    There are many ways to look at it, and this is one of the ways I rationalize it. The 2015 we see in BTTF2 is ONE possible future-a logical extrapolation of events as they stand on October 26th 1985. As of October 26th 1985, the most likely future was that Marty would get into the accident the next day, break his hand, and become the loser we see in the movie. Hence, that's the future the time traveler's see when they depart for 2015 from that date.

    But on October 27th 1985, Marty chooses NOT to race Needles, owing to the lesson he learnt in the Old West. From that point onwards, the most likely future is one where Marty becomes successful. So, if the Delorean was still intact and someone jumped to 2015 the moment BEFORE Marty refused to race Needles in BTTF3, they would see the future we saw in the film; if they jumped to 2015 the moment AFTER he refused to race Needles (and the YOU'RE FIRED fax was erased), they would find a new future.

    Another way to look at it is Doc's explanation in BTTF2; Marty's race with Needles is a crucial event (a temporal 'junction point' of sorts!) and that event being altered causes the timeline to 'skew into a tangent' resulting in an alternate 2015. Marty, at the end of the trilogy, is destined to live in this alternate 2015, while the 'original' 2015 of BTTF2 was erased.

  • I think it's the same with other paradoxes in the movie. All in all it's proven that the time continuum shown in the movies are much more resistant to paradoxes than Doc thinks, in a way not a "circulation of events with contradicting results" is important, but the "final change" always takes effect (what matters of "final" is simply what movie thinks instead of the chronologic order of events).

  • @sn939 said: I agree that logically it WOULD be a paradox (as would be a LOT of other things in BTTF2 and 3), but the way time travel is presented in the movies, I don't think it would be such a problem.

    There are many ways to look at it, and this is one of the ways I rationalize it. The 2015 we see in BTTF2 is ONE possible future-a logical extrapolation of events as they stand on October 26th 1985. As of October 26th 1985, the most likely future was that Marty would get into the accident the next day, break his hand, and become the loser we see in the movie. Hence, that's the future the time traveler's see when they depart for 2015 from that date.

    But on October 27th 1985, Marty chooses NOT to race Needles, owing to the lesson he learnt in the Old West. From that point onwards, the most likely future is one where Marty becomes successful. So, if the Delorean was still intact and someone jumped to 2015 the moment BEFORE Marty refused to race Needles in BTTF3, they would see the future we saw in the film; if they jumped to 2015 the moment AFTER he refused to race Needles (and the YOU'RE FIRED fax was erased), they would find a new future.

    Another way to look at it is Doc's explanation in BTTF2; Marty's race with Needles is a crucial event (a temporal 'junction point' of sorts!) and that event being altered causes the timeline to 'skew into a tangent' resulting in an alternate 2015. Marty, at the end of the trilogy, is destined to live in this alternate 2015, while the 'original' 2015 of BTTF2 was erased.

    Exactly. It clearly is the most likely future up until Marty avoids the race hence why doc travels to 2015 multiple times and everything plays out the exact same way until he actually makes a change. Marty or Buford or Biff easily could have died in many of their encounters for the remainder of the films, that would have avoided that 2015 but it doesn't. That version of 2015 has been avoided similar to how the current version of 1985 is altered in the Biffhoric timeline and later returned. But their clearly is evidence that the 'other' marty we see in 1955 is from the original timeline as well (seems to go through the same fading, also I'd think his last conversation with George and Lorraine would go differently if he's from the Biffhoric timeline where George dies in 1973.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: Exactly. It clearly is the most likely future up until Marty avoids the race hence why doc travels to 2015 multiple times and everything plays out the exact same way until he actually makes a change. Marty or Buford or Biff easily could have died in many of their encounters for the remainder of the films, that would have avoided that 2015 but it doesn't. That version of 2015 has been avoided similar to how the current version of 1985 is altered in the Biffhoric timeline and later returned. But their clearly is evidence that the 'other' marty we see in 1955 is from the original timeline as well (seems to go through the same fading, also I'd think his last conversation with George and Lorraine would go differently if he's from the Biffhoric timeline where George dies in 1973.

    Agreed. The 'other' Marty in 1955 IS the original Twin Pines Marty from BTTF1. Just like Old Biff is from Lone Pine 2015. And no matter how much the timeline is changed, this will ALWAYS be the case.

    So, in the final timeline, in 1985, Marty grew up with successful parents...and in 2015, he became a successful rock star. However, the time traveling Marty in 1955 would remember growing up with loser parents, and Old Biff in 1955 would remember Marty being a loser who 'flushed his life down the toilet' in 2015...

  • This kind of isn't a paradox. It would be a paradox if it happened like you describe it but it's not really clear if the reason Marty Jr. did the robbery because his Dad was a loser. There is a possibility he still says yes to biff. If anything this paradox you mention is speculation.

    But then again it's a paradox simply when they prevent the robbery from happening.

  • Agreed...though people tend to believe (or rather...hope), that in the final timeline, Marty Jr DOESN'T end up a wimp. In fact, since 2015 Marty in the final timeline would know about the danger of his son falling into Griff's company, he would do his best to stop that from happening.

    But yeah, a LOT of things in BTTF2 and 3 would DEFINETLY lead to paradoxes, logically-

    1. Marty preventing Marty Jr. from taking part in the robbery; in turn prevents Doc from learning about it in the first place.

    2. Old Biff giving the Almanac to Young Biff, which not only erases his very EXISTENCE in 2015, but also prevents the invention of the time machine ITSELF...thus making it impossible, both ways, for him to steal it and give the Almanac in the first place.

    3. Marty and Doc, by burning the Almanac in 1955 and restoring the normal timeline, would also cause a paradox as their earlier selves would be unaware that they needed to travel back and destroy the Almanac.

    4. Marty saving Doc from Bufford Tannen means there won't be any tombstone in 1955 for Marty to learn about his 'death' and have a reason to go back to 1885 in the first place.

    5. And Marty refusing to race Needles might mean that Doc would have no reason at the end of BTTF1/start of BTTF2 to travel back and initiate the sequence of events that culminated in Marty's decision to refuse to race Needles.

    However, these paradoxes only occur if you believe that it is necessary for stable circular loops to be maintained within a timeline...and the time travelers only recall information that exists within the final timeline. But that is clearly not the case. Marty and Doc both remember timelines and events which have been erased. For instance, Marty still remembers his loser parents. Both he and Doc remember Hell Valley long after that timeline was erased. If Marty and Doc visit a timeline, then even after it is erased, they will remember it. And if Marty can remember meeting a version of Biff who killed George, why can't Doc remember learning about a version of Marty who became a loser...even if both no longer exist!

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