ByJonathan Sim, writer at
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

Welcome to "Answering & Debunking". This may possibly be a new series on my page in which I answer Frequently Asked Questions about movies and things like that and I debunk any fan theories that are implausible. I'm not too sure about the future of this series, but I'm doing it today. Today's topic is the Back to the Future trilogy. Q = Question, A = Answer, T = Theory, D = Debunking

Q: Can you explain to me the "Twin Pines Mall" and "Lone Pine Mall" bit in the first movie?

A: So, in case you don't know, at the beginning of the first movie, Marty arrives at the Twin Pines Mall to test run the DeLorean. However, at the end of the movie where Marty returns from 1955 to 1985 and returns to the same mall, the sign now reads "Lone Pine Mall".

This is because the Twin Pines Mall was named after a pair of pine trees that stood there in the past. Shortly after Marty travels to 1955, he accidentally runs the DeLorean over one of the pine trees. So they named the mall "Lone Pine Mall" because there was only one tree there.

T: George knew Marty went back in time because of the Star Wars reference ("My name is Darth Vader"), the carpet setting on fire, and because he looks exactly like Calvin Klein.

D: Not too sure about this. This will explain the mystery of how George and Lorraine don't know that Marty looks a hell of a lot like Calvin and they even share the same name, but George doesn't even know about the time machine. So how would they come up with this?

Q: Marty goes to the cafe and he says "Gimme a tab." Mr. Caruthers (the server) responds "A tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something." What does this mean?

A: A tab is the same as a bill. The server guy thinks Marty wants a bill for whatever he's ordered, although because Marty hasn't eaten or drunk anything yet, he can't give him one. Even though a bill for a restaurant meal can be referred to as a "tab", this term is more commonly used in bars. When someone "runs a tab," it means they pay the total cost as they're about to leave, rather than pay for each drink separately.

T: Biff actually ran over Marty successfully and Marty was killed. So when Doc saw this, he went back in time and lowered the rope and saved Marty.

D: Great theory. In fact, this post was originally going to be this theory. But then I thought it over and decided not to. Because I realized this: Doc says in Back to the Future Part II that 17-year old Marty couldn't meet 47-year old Marty because that would destroy the space-time continuum.

But here's the thing: while Marty was escaping Biff in the tunnel, Doc was hovering near the tunnel in the DeLorean. If Doc had traveled back to when Marty wasn't dead yet, he could have a head-on collision with his past self, the Doc that doesn't save Marty. That's why I don't think it's true because Doc would know better than to find himself. And this would create a paradox because if Marty survived, Doc would have no reason to go back in time to save him. But this does leave the question: how did Doc know to save Marty?

Q: If the cast wanted Michael J. Fox for the role of Marty, why did they cast Eric Stoltz?

A: True. Fox was the first choice for Marty. However, the reason they filmed with Stoltz as Marty for four-six weeks is because Fox was working on the NBC sitcom, Family Ties. He need to work on the show, but after a few weeks, they were able to work it out so that Fox would film Family Ties in the day and Back to the Future in the night.

And that's it!

I'm not too sure about the future of this series. I might continue it, I might not. But stay tuned!


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