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Echoes of Time Travelers

posted by Rogers on - last edited - Viewed by 2.5K users

There are many instances, particularly in Parts 2 and 3, where Doc or Marty travel to the past to accomplish some goal, but when they succeed in that goal, they eliminate the original purpose of going back. (Going to 1955 to retrieve the almanac, saving Doc from the west and destroying the tombstone, the list goes on.) This would seemingly be a variation of the Grandfather Paradox, as we are led to believe that BTTF exists on one constantly evolving timeline. But even though there is only one timeline, we have several different "realities" or "versions" of that timeline. (1985a, Twin Pines 1985, future where Marty gets in an accident)

The problem is that once one of these alternate realities get erased, people in
that reality aren't supposed to affect the timeline anymore. Take 2015 where Biff steals the almanac. If Old Biff from 2015 goes to 1955, only to create an alternate reality where Doc and Marty don't show up in 2015, how can he go back in time with the almanac? The answer, I think, is that no matter how many times you alter the timeline, an "echo" of older versions of time travelers must still exist to complete whatever action they are meant to complete.

To illustrate this more clearly, let's look at Part 2 when Doc and Marty go back to 1955. They see Old Biff hand over the almanac, an almanac from a version of 2015 that no longer exists. The Old Biff they see can't possibly be who Biff grows into anymore either, because once he gives Young Biff the almanac he creates 1985a. Doc and Marty would have had to take the time machine to 2015a in order for that Old Biff to even have a chance of using it. Therefore, this Old Biff should not exist. BUT HE DOES...He exists as an echo, a remnant from a destroyed reality. As soon as Old Biff drives off from 1955 at 88 mph, he'll just cease to exist because there's no timeline for him to go back to.

There are several "echos" present in the series. Once Marty goes back home in Part 3, the version of him in 1955 who travels to the Wild West must also be an echo. In BTTF the Game, there is a Citizen Brown timeline where the time machine was never invented, yet we still see Doc and Marty in a photo taken in the 30s. They were echoes.

Any thoughts on this theory?

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    Jennifer Moderator

    @sn939 said: Well, that's pretty much what DID happen as per the deleted scene.


    It wasn't instantaneous though. He was writhing in pain for quite an amount of time before he faded. If he realized that he died in the 1990's, he would have had enough time to go back in time like Marty did in episode 2 of the game. Like you said in your post about Marty's actions in episode 2, if it was probability based he shouldn't have had any time at all since the probability he could exist would have been zero.

  • @Jennifer said: It wasn't instantaneous though. He was writhing in pain for quite an amount of time before he faded. If he realized that he died in the 1990's, he would have had enough time to go back in time like Marty did in episode 2 of the game. Like you said in your post about Marty's actions in episode 2, if it was probability based he shouldn't have had any time at all since the probability he could exist would have been zero.

    You may have got me there! The only explanation is that the fading process itself takes time once it begins...people being erased from existence can be considered akin to the space-time continuum 'healing' itself.

    That said, i don't for a moment pretend BTTF is at ALL consistent about the speeds of the 'ripple effect'. Its a clear case of movie logic...in BTTF2, when the Almanac in burnt, we see the matchbook change first, then Marty's newspaper, and THEN Doc's newspaper...logically, all of them should have changed at the SAME time. But it's not something one really thinks much about.

    My point is, that whether the ripple effect is time-based or probability-based; the portrayal in Episode 2 of the Game does seem to go against what was established on screen in BTTF1. In BTTF1, we see Marty's siblings fading from the photograph gradually and only in the END, at the 'critical junction point' of George and Lorraine's kiss, does Marty HIMSELF start to fade.

    Whereas, in the Game, not only does the photograph of George McFly continue to fade (which makes sense), but Marty keeps having these 'fading spasms' which make no sense at all...considering that he didn't have them back in 1955 in BTTF1.

  • @sn939 said: You may have got me there! The only explanation is that the fading process itself takes time once it begins...people being erased from existence can be considered akin to the space-time continuum 'healing' itself.

    That said, i don't for a moment pretend BTTF is at ALL consistent about the speeds of the 'ripple effect'. Its a clear case of movie logic...in BTTF2, when the Almanac in burnt, we see the matchbook change first, then Marty's newspaper, and THEN Doc's newspaper...logically, all of them should have changed at the SAME time. But it's not something one really thinks much about.

    My point is, that whether the ripple effect is time-based or probability-based; the portrayal in Episode 2 of the Game does seem to go against what was established on screen in BTTF1. In BTTF1, we see Marty's siblings fading from the photograph gradually and only in the END, at the 'critical junction point' of George and Lorraine's kiss, does Marty HIMSELF start to fade.

    Whereas, in the Game, not only does the photograph of George McFly continue to fade (which makes sense), but Marty keeps having these 'fading spasms' which make no sense at all...considering that he didn't have them back in 1955 in BTTF1.

    Not really, the ripple effect seems to affect things in chronological order. Not sure about the matchbooks (as far as when they get changed) but Marty's newspaper is from 1973, docs is from 1983 so it is logically that marty changes first (ripple effect going forward). Similar to how in part I, the 3 Mcfly kids fade in order of age (again the ripple effect going forward). Likewise in 1931 Georges face starts fading more than Marty's body (georges birth being prevented first). Marty's spasms don't seem any better or worse in episode 2 vs part I; in part I they were bad enough to litterally bring him off his feet whereas in episode 2 he was still standing (both times his hand started to fade first). Biff has pretty much the same spasms in the deleted scene but he does seem to poke himself with the cane.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: Not really, the ripple effect seems to affect things in chronological order. Not sure about the matchbooks (as far as when they get changed) but Marty's newspaper is from 1973, docs is from 1983 so it is logically that marty changes first (ripple effect going forward). Similar to how in part I, the 3 Mcfly kids fade in order of age (again the ripple effect going forward). Likewise in 1931 Georges face starts fading more than Marty's body (georges birth being prevented first). Marty's spasms don't seem any better or worse in episode 2 vs part I; in part I they were bad enough to litterally bring him off his feet whereas in episode 2 he was still standing (both times his hand started to fade first). Biff has pretty much the same spasms in the deleted scene but he does seem to poke himself with the cane.

    If the ripple effect doesn't involve probabilities, how else would you explain the changing tombstone picture in BTTF3?

    That photograph literally keeps changing depending on how events are developing on 1885...Doc himself states how they photograph represent what will happen if events are allowed to progress naturally i.e. the 'most likely' future. I'd say that means probabilities are involved.

  • @sn939 said: You may have got me there! The only explanation is that the fading process itself takes time once it begins...people being erased from existence can be considered akin to the space-time continuum 'healing' itself.

    That said, i don't for a moment pretend BTTF is at ALL consistent about the speeds of the 'ripple effect'. Its a clear case of movie logic...in BTTF2, when the Almanac in burnt, we see the matchbook change first, then Marty's newspaper, and THEN Doc's newspaper...logically, all of them should have changed at the SAME time. But it's not something one really thinks much about.

    My point is, that whether the ripple effect is time-based or probability-based; the portrayal in Episode 2 of the Game does seem to go against what was established on screen in BTTF1. In BTTF1, we see Marty's siblings fading from the photograph gradually and only in the END, at the 'critical junction point' of George and Lorraine's kiss, does Marty HIMSELF start to fade.

    Whereas, in the Game, not only does the photograph of George McFly continue to fade (which makes sense), but Marty keeps having these 'fading spasms' which make no sense at all...considering that he didn't have them back in 1955 in BTTF1.

    I think it's both probabilities based and time based. Once you pass the junction point it then becomes time based. Regardless if you jumped back to the past.

    Also like Michael J Fox is Canadian said, I'm pretty sure they took longer to change because certain events happened first. Marty's newspaper was before Doc's and assume in the Hell Valley timeline the matchbook was created early (At the start of BTTF2 it's established that he just printed them out).

  • @Tornreaper said: I think it's both probabilities based and time based. Once you pass the junction point it then becomes time based. Regardless if you jumped back to the past.

    But that's an inherently paradoxical statement (no pun intended!) It may well be time based once you pass the 'junction point', but the moment you jumped back to the past, you would be way BEFORE the 'junction point. So suppose Arthur McFly was nearly dead at the end of Episode 1 and that's the 'junction point'. Okay, fair enough, that means Marty starts fading...but then Marty goes back in time a few hours to way BEFORE the 'junction point', so he shouldn't be fading now.

    @Tornreaper said: Also like Michael J Fox is Canadian said, I'm pretty sure they took longer to change because certain events happened first. Marty's newspaper was before Doc's and assume in the Hell Valley timeline the matchbook was created early (At the start of BTTF2 it's established that he just printed them out).

  • @sn939 said: But that's an inherently paradoxical statement (no pun intended!) It may well be time based once you pass the 'junction point', but the moment you jumped back to the past, you would be way BEFORE the 'junction point. So suppose Arthur McFly was nearly dead at the end of Episode 1 and that's the 'junction point'. Okay, fair enough, that means Marty starts fading...but then Marty goes back in time a few hours to way BEFORE the 'junction point', so he shouldn't be fading now.

    It does make some sense. I don't know why you find it so hard to believe that he can still fade if he already experienced a moment after the junction point even if he went back.

  • @sn939 said: If the ripple effect doesn't involve probabilities, how else would you explain the changing tombstone picture in BTTF3?

    That photograph literally keeps changing depending on how events are developing on 1885...Doc himself states how they photograph represent what will happen if events are allowed to progress naturally i.e. the 'most likely' future. I'd say that means probabilities are involved.

    Oh it is probability based, not doubting that. The junction point for docs death was september 5th 1885 when he got shot, once marty stops it, his name fades but the date does not (had Doc stayed away from the saloon, it probably would have been Marshall Strickland on that tombstomb). Once Marty goes to the saloon, 'Clint eastwood' appears because he's who buford wants dead, and of course once the tombstomb is destroyed it disappeared.

    So back to Artie; marty fades out until the wheels are in motion for him to die are averted. While Artie is in the possession of tannens goons, the most likely scenario is still him dying but it's unconfirmed.

  • @Tornreaper said: It does make some sense. I don't know why you find it so hard to believe that he can still fade if he already experienced a moment after the junction point even if he went back.

    Okay, look at it this way. If Marty starts to fade because he's past the 'junction point', then that means that his fading is because of the fact that he is existing at a certain point of time. Ergo, if he chooses to travel to another earlier point in time, he should stop fading.

    To my mind, it makes FAR more sense for the ripple effect to be probability based. I mean, there has to be a reason why Marty was starting to fade at PRECISELY the moment of George and Lorraine's kiss (which almost didn't happen)...and that he stopped fading and the McFly kids were 'restored' the moment they DID kiss. Or why the newspapers changed the moment the Almanac was burnt. Objects (and people!) from the future, reflect the most probable future based on how events are developing in the past. The ripple effect alters or erases them based on changing probabilities.

  • @sn939 said: Okay, look at it this way. If Marty starts to fade because he's past the 'junction point', then that means that his fading is because of the fact that he is existing at a certain point of time. Ergo, if he chooses to travel to another earlier point in time, he should stop fading.

    To my mind, it makes FAR more sense for the ripple effect to be probability based. I mean, there has to be a reason why Marty was starting to fade at PRECISELY the moment of George and Lorraine's kiss (which almost didn't happen)...and that he stopped fading and the McFly kids were 'restored' the moment they DID kiss. Or why the newspapers changed the moment the Almanac was burnt. Objects (and people!) from the future, reflect the most probable future based on how events are developing in the past. The ripple effect alters or erases them based on changing probabilities.

    I know what you're saying but you're also repeating your self. By your logic the newspaper should have changed exactly when they went to back to 1955 because that was before the junction point where Biff gave himself the Almanac (although we don't see the newspapers at that point).

    Or the picture of the tombstone. It stayed the same when he arrived in 1885 even though it happened before he got shot. Why did it stay the same? Because that picture had already passed the junction point.

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