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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
  • @tope1983 said: That's not how the movie rules work.
    The official different timelines are these:
    Back to the Future timeline

    It all works for me quite well except for the ripple-effect, that should exclude Marty, Doc, Einstein and Jennifer in 2015. Why should they fade/jump/merge from timeline 3 to timeline 4? No one else, who is "left behind from a time travel" does that: Neither George nor Lorraine in BTTF 1, neither Doc or Einstein in BTTF 1... it just happens in BTTF 2 in 2015.
    If every time travel to the past creates a new timeline that is seperated from the original one of the time traveller and if every time travel to the future is on the same timeline that you start from... this whole Marty, Doc, Einstein & Jennifer issue makes no sense at all.

    Or we set up the rule: every person that time travelled at least once isn't affected by changes that are done by a different time traveller in the past. These persons are just thrown (or rippled) to the new established timeline (That would mean that Einstein is still Two Pine Mall Einstein).

    The general idea, according to Bob Gale is that time traveler's are unaffected by the ripple effect when they're in a time period other than their own. So, when Old Biff traveled back in time to 1955, he created a new timeline which rippled into 2015, transforming it into 2015-A. However, because Marty, Doc, Jennifer and Einstien did not belong to 2015, they were unaffected by the ripple effect.

    We actually see this happen very vividly in the game. When Edna goes back to 1876, Marty and Doc, who are in 1931, actually see Hill Valley disappearing around them. That's because they do not belong to 1931 and therefore, are immune to the ripple effect, hence they can actually perceive reality transforming around them.

  • @sn939 said: The general idea, according to Bob Gale is that time traveler's are unaffected by the ripple effect when they're in a time period other than their own. So, when Old Biff traveled back in time to 1955, he created a new timeline which rippled into 2015, transforming it into 2015-A. However, because Marty, Doc, Jennifer and Einstien did not belong to 2015, they were unaffected by the ripple effect.

    We actually see this happen very vividly in the game. When Edna goes back to 1876, Marty and Doc, who are in 1931, actually see Hill Valley disappearing around them. That's because they do not belong to 1931 and therefore, are immune to the ripple effect, hence they can actually perceive reality transforming around them.

    What's the own time period of a time traveller?
    As you create a new timeline by every jump into the past, a time traveller will never be in his origin time period. Whether you travel to the past and then "back" to the present (BTTF1) or whether you travel to the future and then back to the present (BTTF2). You end up in a new timeline.

    Technically you lost your belonging time period. And you would be immune to any ripple effect 'caused by any other time traveller. Right?

  • @sn939 said: The general idea, according to Bob Gale is that time traveler's are unaffected by the ripple effect when they're in a time period other than their own. So, when Old Biff traveled back in time to 1955, he created a new timeline which rippled into 2015, transforming it into 2015-A. However, because Marty, Doc, Jennifer and Einstien did not belong to 2015, they were unaffected by the ripple effect.

    We actually see this happen very vividly in the game. When Edna goes back to 1876, Marty and Doc, who are in 1931, actually see Hill Valley disappearing around them. That's because they do not belong to 1931 and therefore, are immune to the ripple effect, hence they can actually perceive reality transforming around them.

    Not true. When talking to Doc in episode 5 with optional dialog options he explains that because the jump was in 1876 the ripple effect was talking longer to affect them and he calculated that they had an hour before they faded out (How he can make calculations like that is beyond me).

  • @Tornreaper said: Not true. When talking to Doc in episode 5 with optional dialog options he explains that because the jump was in 1876 the ripple effect was talking longer to affect them and he calculated that they had an hour before they faded out (How he can make calculations like that is beyond me).

    I'm not saying you're wrong or anything but i've played through it twice and don't remember this happening, are you able to point out on video wheren it does?

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: I'm not saying you're wrong or anything but i've played through it twice and don't remember this happening, are you able to point out on video wheren it does?

    You probably never picked that option then. I wasn't important to the story or anything because you had to chat with Doc to see it. Kind of like how in episode 1 you could talk to him in jail to find some backstory like how he found the temporal duplicate.

    Anyways I remember seeing it in someone's LP once. Hold on a sec...

    Got it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV-2BYLep94&list=PL152AB9D77B56AEB0&index=55&feature=plpp_video

    @ 12:45 ;)

  • @Tornreaper said: You probably never picked that option then. I wasn't important to the story or anything because you had to chat with Doc to see it. Kind of like how in episode 1 you could talk to him in jail to find some backstory like how he found the temporal duplicate.

    Anyways I remember seeing it in someone's LP once. Hold on a sec...

    Got it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV-2BYLep94&list=PL152AB9D77B56AEB0&index=55&feature=plpp_video

    @ 12:45 ;)

    Thank you. So that could also explain part II: people point out Biff seemingly returning to the same 2015 but it's possible 60 years of rippling hasn't caught up yet (in the case of epsiode 5 its' been 55 years since the ripple but doc and marty come from a point 110 years after the ripple). It's even possible they confused the space time continuum because it would be a case where the timeline would have to ripple forwards and backwards several times. Consider how this burnt hill valley timeline would play out;

    -the entire 1885 sequence is pretty much guaranteed not to happen. Clara is likely still born but there'd be no hill valley school to teach at. If somehow doc did end up in the same spot he gets struck by lightning in 1955, he'd end up in an unpopulated hill valley in 1885.
    -the Browns do NOT move to hill valley in 1908 since there is no hill valley. Also if you follow the original script and/or novel of part III Emmets mother sarah lathrop was already there in 1885 so it's possible Emmet hasn't been born. According to the video you posted, george is still born somehow (we do know artie is alive in that timeline)
    -1955 is heavily different, there's no clock tower to get struck by lightning (unless you theorize it gets built within 24 years but thats heavily unlikely since it's improbable to have a town get populated and warrant that size of a court house so quickly. The clock itself was a gift given in 1885). Even if you buy into the notion that Hill valley could have gained a population within this time, the school wouldn't have been as heavily populated as what we saw in parts I and II. I get that the space time continuum has a way of ensuring similar things happening in different timelines but George having that exact same routine on saturday november 5th 1955 in that timeline is very unlikely. Lous cafe for instance had been the saloon in 1885 (and eventually becomes the cafe 80's by 2015) but would have been burned down.
    -consider all the timelines needing to be erased in reverse; twin pine, 2 lone pines (with 2 versions of 2015s robbery), biffhoric, restored Clayton lone pine (this one only exists for around a minute between the burning of the almanac and doc getting struck by lightning), shonash timeline (timeline shown early in part III), eastwood, Carl sagan getting killed in 1931, dead arthur mcfly, tannen crime family, FCB, the brief restored timeline we see after FCB is replaced by old doc but before edna escapes to the past.

    So ALL those timelines would have to be erased for doc and marty to vanish as well. We do know the ripple effect can go backwards (in the fcb timeline, the ravine is called Clayton ravine so the 1885 trip has been erased) but especially with the fact that there are 2 sets of ripples back to back (the newer timeline with doc and Judge Brown getting along and then edna burning hill valley), it's not hard to see doc and marty being immune for some time. And as discussed above they eventually travel back before the ripple.

  • @Tornreaper said: Not true. When talking to Doc in episode 5 with optional dialog options he explains that because the jump was in 1876 the ripple effect was talking longer to affect them and he calculated that they had an hour before they faded out (How he can make calculations like that is beyond me).

    Yes, its true that eventually the ripple effect WILL catch up to them and they WILL get erased...but for the time being, they're immune to it by virtue of existing outside the realm of the normal laws of causality. Of course, it seems they lasted for hours in other alternate realities, but will only last for an hour in this one...presumably because the Burnt Hill Valley timeline is a far FAR bigger paradox than ANY of the others!

    @Tornreaper said: Thank you. So that could also explain part II: people point out Biff seemingly returning to the same 2015 but it's possible 60 years of rippling hasn't caught up yet (in the case of epsiode 5 its' been 55 years since the ripple but doc and marty come from a point 110 years after the ripple). It's even possible they confused the space time continuum because it would be a case where the timeline would have to ripple forwards and backwards several times. Consider how this burnt hill valley timeline would play out;

    -the entire 1885 sequence is pretty much guaranteed not to happen. Clara is likely still born but there'd be no hill valley school to teach at. If somehow doc did end up in the same spot he gets struck by lightning in 1955, he'd end up in an unpopulated hill valley in 1885.
    -the Browns do NOT move to hill valley in 1908 since there is no hill valley. Also if you follow the original script and/or novel of part III Emmets mother sarah lathrop was already there in 1885 so it's possible Emmet hasn't been born. According to the video you posted, george is still born somehow (we do know artie is alive in that timeline)
    -1955 is heavily different, there's no clock tower to get struck by lightning (unless you theorize it gets built within 24 years but thats heavily unlikely since it's improbable to have a town get populated and warrant that size of a court house so quickly. The clock itself was a gift given in 1885). Even if you buy into the notion that Hill valley could have gained a population within this time, the school wouldn't have been as heavily populated as what we saw in parts I and II. I get that the space time continuum has a way of ensuring similar things happening in different timelines but George having that exact same routine on saturday november 5th 1955 in that timeline is very unlikely. Lous cafe for instance had been the saloon in 1885 (and eventually becomes the cafe 80's by 2015) but would have been burned down.
    -consider all the timelines needing to be erased in reverse; twin pine, 2 lone pines (with 2 versions of 2015s robbery), biffhoric, restored Clayton lone pine (this one only exists for around a minute between the burning of the almanac and doc getting struck by lightning), shonash timeline (timeline shown early in part III), eastwood, Carl sagan getting killed in 1931, dead arthur mcfly, tannen crime family, FCB, the brief restored timeline we see after FCB is replaced by old doc but before edna escapes to the past.

    So ALL those timelines would have to be erased for doc and marty to vanish as well. We do know the ripple effect can go backwards (in the fcb timeline, the ravine is called Clayton ravine so the 1885 trip has been erased) but especially with the fact that there are 2 sets of ripples back to back (the newer timeline with doc and Judge Brown getting along and then edna burning hill valley), it's not hard to see doc and marty being immune for some time. And as discussed above they eventually travel back before the ripple.

    You're quiet right here. Though the answer with regards to Old Biff's return to 2015 is one which Bob Gale provided in the official FAQ. (Then again, in the original BTTF2 script, Biff clearly returns to LP 2015, and Marty and Doc see Hill Valley transforming just as they prepare to leave for 1985...so evidently the ripple effect working slowly WAS the original explanation.

    That said, one thing which I've always found was a flaw with the game was the ripple effect working BACKWARDS, which is totally against everything we've seen in BTTF2. In BTTF2, we see Marty from BTTF1 in 1955 even in the history of the Hell Valley timeline (where the Delorean wasn't invented), because Marty arrived in 1955 BEFORE the divergence caused by Old Biff...and the ripple effect doesn't work backwards. So the ravine being named Clayton Ravine actually went against the rules established in the films-in the FCB timeline, the ravine should still have been called Eastwood Ravine, and Doc and Clara from the films would still have lived in the 19th century for a while. When they traveled to the future though, they, and Jules and Verne, would have been erased, since they would have traveled past the point of divergence in 1931. But I guess it would have been confusing to explain why the ravine was still called Eastwood Ravine...and also having it called Clayton DID serve to drive home the point that Clara was dead and Doc's kids never existed in the new timeline (giving Marty an added motivation to set things right for his friend). So its a case of storytelling over logic which I'm quiet okay with.

    That said, going by the theory that the ripple effect works BACKWARDS as well in certain cases (and it may well be possible, considering how badly the timeline was screwed up with Edna and Doc getting together in Ep 2), just imagine how messed up thinks would have been in Ep 5 when the timeline was restored. Sure, Marty was seeing Citizen Brown slowly fading out of existence and the newspaper from 1986 'rippling' into one where Doc wins the Key to the City...but Hill Valley would ALSO be transforming all around him. The memories of the older inhabitants of 1931 Hill Valley would be changing, to remember an eccentric blacksmith named Emmett Brown, his wife Clara and their kids, who lived in Hill Valley before the turn of the century (and some may even remember a certain 'Clint Eastwood' who took on Bufford Tannen). Western Union would suddenly have a telegram which has been in their keeping for 45 years, to be delivered 24 years later to one Marty McFly. All signboards identifying the ravine as Clayton Ravine would change to Eastwood Ravine (along with people's memories). A certain photograph of Emmett Brown (and possibly 'Clint Eastwoood') standing by the new Clock Tower in 1885 would find its way into the local library.

    It's mind boggling when you think about it!

  • I'm thinking the FCB timeline and burnt hill valleys timelines may have been similar;

    in FCB its very clear the existing time travels to 1931 were NOT erased for the simple reason they had to exist for that time line to exist. So you could argue the same thing for the burnt hill valley one; edna's trip to 1876 had to happen and possibly mart traveling to 1931 as well in order for her to steal the time machine.

  • @Michael J Fox is Canadian said: I'm thinking the FCB timeline and burnt hill valleys timelines may have been similar;

    in FCB its very clear the existing time travels to 1931 were NOT erased for the simple reason they had to exist for that time line to exist. So you could argue the same thing for the burnt hill valley one; edna's trip to 1876 had to happen and possibly mart traveling to 1931 as well in order for her to steal the time machine.

    Edna's trip to 1876 definetly happened...Marty's trip to 1931 however wouldn't have happened.

    From the POV of anyone in the alternate 1931, Marty and Doc simply appeared out of thin air (much like Hill Valley disappeared into thin air from their POV)

  • There really isn't a paradox here. As that piece of history is changed after their visit to the future. Look at this 2015 much like Hell Valley, it is an alternate timeline that is erased when the event fails to happen. It could be considered a paradox if he had gone back into the past to specifically change the event, but he did this in the PRESENT. That's really the key here.

    The thing that always bugged me was wondering what happened to the other Marty at the end of BTTF 1. He couldn't of had the same adventure, because his upbringing would have been different from the Marty we know. (much like the mentioned Marty in Hell Valley) I wonder if the 2nd Marty actually ended up in the 1985 from the beginning of the movie, that would be crazy.

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