Back to the Future theory: Real reason Doc Brown changed his mind on time travel dangers

Back to the Future is one of cinema’s best-loved movies, so no wonder fans love dissecting the complexity of the story’s time-travelling escapades. Have you ever wondered why 1955’s Doc Brown changed his mind about the letter Marty wrote to him to avoid being shot by Libyan terrorists in 1985? The younger version of Doc ripped up Marty’s letter out of fear of changing the timeline.

However, when Marty arrived back in 1985 he discovered that Doc had worn a bullet proof vest having taped the letter back together.

Doc said to the young time traveller: “I figured, what the hell?”

So what exactly changed his mind about the dangers of meddling with past events?

Well, Reddit user amanwhodrinks argues that 1955’s Doc had a change of heart when Marty revealed how his father had knocked out Biff Tannen for the first time in his life.


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Despite the change in time, Doc notices that Marty’s siblings are restored in the photograph of them.

The theorist writes: “My theory is that Doc had a major epiphany in this scene.

“At that moment when he saw the restored picture of Marty and his brother and sister, he realised that you can completely change the past and still have a positive and congruent outcome on the future without destroying the space-time continuum.

“You might be thinking ‘OK, so what?’, except that this would’ve been what changed his entire outlook on time, made him rethink tearing up that letter, and gave him motivation to tape it back together.”

They continued: “Up until then he viewed the space-time continuum as this fragile thing that could destroy the universe if not handled correctly.

“Everything had been doom and gloom as the picture was slowly fading.

“But then from a completely random act by Marty’s father (an act that was never allowed to happen in the original timeline), everything was restored.

“At the end, Marty questions Doc about his change of heart and Doc says, ‘I figured what the hell.’”

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They added: “This scene shows the exact moment that Doc figured it out.

“This makes more sense than having [a] major character keep such strong convictions for 95% of a movie and then in the last 10 minutes decides to do an about face for seemingly no reason.

“This scene would add some more substance to that.

“And to be honest, Zemekis and Gale are better than that.”

Interestingly, there is another theory about Doc’s change of heart about the letter.

Reddit user HBBRian argues that Doc was inspired only after the second Marty appears at the end of Back to the Future Part II.

The key moment being when Marty shows 1955 Doc a letter from 1985 Doc who was stuck in 1885.

To read that theory click here.

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