Doc Brown was a descendant of the wealthy landowners The Browns, formerly the Von Brauns. His love for science fiction, especially Jules Verne, pushed him into the field of science. In 1943, he was teaching at the California Institute of Technology, when he was considered for the Manhattan Project. The stress of contributing to the atomic bomb caused Doc to become a reclusive, until November 5th, 1955, when he slipped in the bathroom and hit his head on the toilet. He awoke with a vision of the flux capacitor, which makes time travel possible.
Doc Brown was first created for the 1985 movie, Back to the Future, written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale and directed by Robert Zemeckis. He was played by Christopher Lloyd.
Major Story Arcs
Meeting Marty McFly
Doc was expecting a candidate for his personal assistant. He had set up a series of puzzles that the candidate would need to solve in order to enter and start the job interview. The puzzles were solved not by the candidate but by a local troublemaker, Marty McFly. He was being extorted by a bully to retrieve an interocitor tube, which had all been bought by Doc. With no other option, he decided to break in and swipe them. So impressed by his ability to solve his puzzles, Doc forgave Marty for the attempted burglary and offered him the job.
Back to the Future Part 1
Doc finally had a breakthrough on his flux capacitor design that he had dreamt up 30 years earlier. He had installed it into a DeLorean, the stainless steel body of which aids in temporal displacement. After a lone successful experiment, it plans a second late night experiment with Marty to document it. However, they are interrupted by the Libyan terrorists that Doc had stolen plutonium from to charge the time circuits. He was shot and killed, while Marty escaped in the DeLorean to the year 1955.
In 1955, he sought out the younger Doc who had just finished bandaging his head from the fall that inspired the flux capacitor. After reviewing the video Marty had made, Doc believed his time travel story and started to plan a means to get Marty back to his own time. Shocked at the energy output needed to charge the time circuits, Doc panicked until Marty told him about the historical lightning bolt that would strike the clock tower in 7 days.
Doc got to work on a power cable rig that would harness that lightning bolt and siphon the power into the DeLorean while Marty tried to fix the time paradoxes he had created by accidentally ruining his parents’ first meeting. Concerned with his friend’s safety, Marty gave the younger Doc a letter detailing his death so that he might prepare and survive. Doc, believing no one should know too much of their own future, ripped the letter up. Unbeknownst to Doc, Marty would set the time circuits back a few minutes so that he could show up before Doc is attacked and try to warn him. He was still late however. He witnessed his friend’s death and his earlier self’s escape. But Doc was ok. He had taped the letter back together and wore a bulletproof vest.
Doc would leave his friend Marty to explore the timestream only to return from a future that was a disaster for Marty’s family.
Back to the Future Part 2
Picking up Marty and Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer, in his DeLorean, now able to fly and create electricity from composting instead of plutonium, they travel to the year 2015, where Doc dresses Marty into the spitting image of his son. Jennifer, hysterical over the trip, was rendered safely asleep by a piece of future tech in Doc’s possession.
Although Marty created more trouble than Doc expected, Marty’s son was in fact in the clear. Doc was ready to bring them home, but there were two problems. He found a sports almanac in Marty’s possession that Marty intended to use to make money on sure-thing sports bets. The other was that the police recovered Jennifer’s body and, mistaking her for being drunk, returned her to the future McFly house.
After recovering Jennifer, the three head back to the present, only to find they are now in an alternate reality. George McFly, Marty’s father, was murdered. His mother, Lorraine, was married to Biff, their high school bully, and Hill Valley had descended into crime and disrepair in the shadow of Biff’s hotel and casino. Doc found evidence that an elderly version of Biff had recovered the sports almanac and stolen the time machine, returning a second after he took it so as not to be noticed. This forced Doc and Marty to head back to 1955 so they could steal back the magazine before teenage Biff had a chance to use it. Doc also believed that they had to avoid being seen by their younger selves or else the time stream might fall apart. Despite this, Doc still absent-mindedly crossed paths with his younger self while setting up the power cables at the clock tower.
When Marty failed to steal the magazine at the school dance, Doc picked him up in the DeLorean so they could chase Biff’s car. Once successful, Doc found a secluded place to drop off Marty who burned the book, correcting the present. Unfortunately, the storm had started, and the DeLorean, in flight, was hit by a lightning bolt that triggered the time circuits.
This stranded Doc in 1885, where he found a home in an old west town as the local blacksmith. He wrote a letter with explicit instructions to be delivered to Marty in the middle of the road right after Doc’s vanishing. It instructed Marty not to come looking for Doc because he was, in fact, happy.
Back to the Future Part 3
One day, while puttering around his workshop creating a steampunk ice maker, a commotion outside got Doc’s attention. He saw Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen and his gang beating up Marty. Grabbing his gun with an impressive high tech scope, he rescued Marty from nearly being hanged. Although angry that he disobeyed his wishes, Doc was still overjoyed to see a familiar face.
Marty informed Doc that he had sought out the 1955 version of Doc who helped him fix the version of the DeLorean that had been hiding in a mine shaft since 1885 so that he could come to the rescue. When looking through the records for evidence of Doc’s new life, they learned that he had been murdered in a duel. Agreeing with Marty that he needed to leave, they started brainstorming ways of getting the DeLorean up and running. Although the time circuits would run on composting, the fuel line was cut, and the engine still required gasoline.
They settled on supercharging a steam engine, which would certainly destroy the locomotive after they were gone. While scouting railroads, they found a bridge in the middle of construction over the canyon that Doc believed would be the right place. Nearby, they see a damsel in distress, Clara Clayton, the town’s new school teacher, whose horse-drawn carriage has run out of control and is headed for the ravine. Doc saved her, and the two started to fall in love.
A few days before they plan to leave, Doc and Marty had some fun at the town festival. There, Doc would court Clara but also anger Buford, inspiring him to challenge a duel the morning they are meant to leave. Believing they’d be long gone by the time of the duel, Doc accepted. Unfortunately, when he tried to tell Clara the truth, she rejected him, and Doc went on bender. He had slept in and was unable to sneak away without Buford noticing. Ultimately, Marty stepped up and outwitted Buford, saving Doc from his fate.
Once on the train, Clara had stowed aboard to make up with Doc. However, the supercharged fuel was causing explosions in the steam engine that almost threw Clara from the train. Using a hoverboard Marty picked up in the future, Doc was able to save Clara and get her to safety, but that meant abandoning the DeLorean, leaving Marty the only one to make it back to 1985.
Doc had no regrets though. He and Clara married, settled down, and had two sons, Jules and Verne. And after much tinkering and experimentation, Doc was able to finally perfect a good enough flux capacitor to travel the space-time continuum with his family. First to the future to properly upgrade their vehicle and then to 1985 to let Marty know that he was happy, healthy, and appreciative of his friendship.
In 1893, Doc showed Clara and their two kids his new time travel device, a “Steam Time Car.” It was a period-appropriate construction of an uncovered wagon fit for one person wearing a diver suit so that Doc could go into the future by himself to get the necessary components to finish constructing his Time Train (seen in Back to the Future Part 3). He promised his family he would only be gone a couple of seconds to them, but when he didn’t return, Clara was prompted to write a special Western Union letter to Marty in the present.
Doc actually overshot 2015 by 20 years. He had a hard time navigating the new future he found himself in. Confused, he made his way to his secret lab and found Marty’s note about Clara from 1986. He decided to keep to the plan, changed into his 2015 appropriate clothes, and tried to access his bank accounts. However, they had changed from retina and thumbprint scans to DNA scans, and Doc’s looked right but were too young. So, he was arrested for identity theft by an older Griff Tannen, now a cop. Doc got loose and ran for his Steam Time Car and headed for 1986, after Marty had made the note. When he emerged in the ‘80s, he crashed causing a temporary loss of memory.
On instinct, he went to his secret lab and found Marty and Jennifer, who did their best to take care of him despite his memory issues. Using any of his good memories or clues on his person, Marty and Jennifer were able to track down the time car and use his backup time parachute to send Doc and Marty to 2035 for more answers. Once back in the future, Doc’s memory returned, and he filled Marty in on what he had done thus far. Unfortunately, Griff had spotted them and was still looking for Doc for identity theft charges.
With Griff using more than necessary force to bring them in, time was of the essence. Using a time travel prototype that Marty turned on in 1986 and had been charging ever since, they sent Doc back in time with time circuits and a flux capacitor to install in the DeLorean that Jennifer was driving around. Doc went back and rescued Marty and made sure he and Jennifer were safe in their own time. Doc then returned to the old west, a little later than he said he would so that Clara would still need to write the letter for Marty.
Who is Marty McFly?
While checking his messages, Doc received a distressing note from Marty in 1986 about his concerns that he is not the real Marty and could be erased by the time stream trying to correct itself. He immediately went to the time and date on Marty’s note to try and reassure him, even though he didn’t have any answers. Unfortunately, it was a trick. Marty had been manipulated by a rival scientist, Dr. Marcus Irving, who stole the time circuits and flux capacitor from the DeLorean, while Doc was meeting with Marty.
To cover his escape, Irving unleashed what Doc believed to be variants of Marty from alternate timelines angry with him for erasing their timelines or taking their place in a better universe. However, they proved to be robot doubles that were just meant to capture Marty and Doc. They were sent by an older Irving who was scared that “a pair of time cowboys” would track him down and ruin a future he is content with. To ensure they never change anything anymore, the older Irving abandons them in 19,654 BC, but Doc is able to convince him that leaving them there would alter the timeline. Instead, he brought them to the 90s and left them in a clean room with his robot doubles of them to be killed with no evidence.
Luckily, Doc had a remote hidden in his shoe to call the DeLorean and help them escape. Marty wanted to head into the time stream and stop Irving from ever getting his hands on the flux capacitor. Doc was afraid this would create a reverse time race with Irving following them and constantly disrupting each other’s lives. Instead, now believing that there are no alternate timelines, they went back to when Irving first snagged the time circuits so that older Irving would follow and reveal himself to his younger version, who was ashamed of the villain he had become. By helping stop the robot doubles from attacking civilians, Irving made his first friends, causing the older Irving to fade away. Just in time, because Doc needs a hand fixing the time circuits in the present so that he could return to his family in 1885.
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