Back to the Future: The Ultimate Geek Quiz


By: Olivia Cantor

4 Min Quiz

Image: Universal Pictures (A Robert Zemeckis Film) Amblin Entertainment U-Drive Productions

About This Quiz

1985's Back to the Future is an important film that defined an era, but its influence over worldwide pop culture continued for decades. The original film spawned two sequels. Think you know enough about this first film? Take this quiz and find out!

Back to the Future was the brainchild of which California film school alum?

Robert Zemeckis came to prominence by directing commercially successful films that also experimented with cinematic technologies. He directed the live action-animation combination film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and also Forrest Gump, which digitally composited archival footage into fresh film footage.


Back to the Future is primarily a comedy, but it is also of what specific film sub-genre?

Back To The Future is a certified sci-fi film. It earned accolades for being one of the best films of this sub-genre. The film reflected many innovations in technology we see today.


Which early sci-fi director served as the producer of this film?

Zemeckis initially lacked the credibility to get BTTF greenlit by major studios. He approached Spielberg, who was beginning to be recognized as a sci-fi film innovator himself. Zemeckis had to become successful first with directing Romancing The Stone before Spielberg’s Amblin' Entertainment would take on this project.


What actor played high school teenager Marty McFly?

Michael J. Fox was initially identified for the role. But when he became unavailable, it was given to someone else. Then Zemeckis decided to reshoot it and get Fox by hook or by crook, which worked.


Which actor was initially cast as Marty McFly?

It was reported that director Zemeckis felt that Stoltz was too dramatic for the comedic role of Marty. Stoltz also felt miscast in the role. An amicable settlement happened, which let Stoltz exit gracefully from the project.


Who portrayed Doc Emmett Brown?

Christopher Lloyd also worked with director Zemeckis in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He portrayed the Judge Doom villain in that film. Lloyd is also an accomplished TV actor, with Emmy awards to his name.


Back to the Future would be an ordinary comedy if not for what sci-fi element, which serves as the backbone of all three films?

Doc Brown invented a time machine to serve humanity. But circumstances beyond his control directed him, along with Marty, to travel to the past and the future to do "small but catastrophic" missions.


Doc Brown's time machine is actually what kind of refurbished car?

The DeLorean was made by an American motoring company back in the late 1970s. The body was stainless steel, with gull-wing doors. However, it only appeared in the market during the early 1980s. It didn’t really take off like other car brands, partly because it was very expensive, but it earned iconic status because of this film.


Doc didn’t really plan to travel back in time when he showed Marty the DeLorean and he punched a “random” date to demonstrate. But why was this random date significant?

Doc conceptualized the flux capacitor decades ago. It’s the main technology for building the time machine. The 1950s date is significant for him in this way.


In this first film, what important people did Marty meet when he accidentally traveled back to 1955?

Marty became involved in his parents’ lives when they were nearly his age. He saw how his teenage dad behaved. He was disturbed to see how his teenage mom behaved, especially around boys.


Marty discovers that his teenage dad was subjected to what sort of treatment?

Marty’s dad George was a geeky and wimpy teen. He was always the object of bullying. He was also awkward with the ladies.


Marty’s teenage mom thinks his actual name is what, since it is printed on his briefs?

Marty’s mom, Lorraine, meets him when he almost gets hit by her father's car outside their house. They bring him inside and take care of him, down to taking off his pants, revealing his undies.


Doc Emmett powers the time machine with what powerful element?

Plutonium is very tricky to handle, plus, this radioactive element is not commonly available. Hence, Doc had to improvise a strategy to get it.


Apparently, Doc stole the plutonium from what sort of terrorists?

It wasn’t explained in detail why Libyan terrorists had plutonium. We just accepted that Doc stole it to put it to better use. It’s assumed that the Libyans stole it for evil purposes.


The 1955 Doc is baffled to learn that plutonium powers the DeLorean. He determines that the 1950s counterpart of having that kind of power could only come from what?

The 1955 Doc is bewildered to know that a radioactive element is “easily available” in 1985. By his calculations, only a bolt of lightning could equal that kind of power.


The 1985 Doc estimates that the flux capacitor, with the help of plutonium, will run with this number of gigawatts.

The 1985 Doc needed the plutonium to produce 1.21 gigawatts. The 1955 Doc estimates that only a bolt of lightning could produce 1.21 gigawatts. In any era, Doc sure can calculate!


Marty’s future self knows that lightning struck what place in his hometown back in 1955?

The town’s courthouse has a clock tower. But in Marty’s time, the clock is broken - it had been struck by lightning back in 1955!


What’s the name of Marty’s suburb in California?

Marty lives in middle class Hill Valley in 1985, in his parents' house. This settlement was already in existence in the 1800s, but the subdivision was, of course, much newer.


George McFly’s adult bully was also his teenage bully. What is his name?

Biff is always the bully, whatever the decade. But things will turn out differently for him soon.


Marty first encounters his teenage dad in what sort of establishment?

In the 1950s, teenagers hung out at diners and soda fountains. A diner is where Marty first sees the geeky teen version of his father George.


When standing up to teen bully Biff, Marty runs away using an improvised 1950s version of what ‘80s toy?

Marty was a typical ‘80s skateboard enthusiast. He converted a ‘50s trolley and made it into a skateboard.


While pursuing Marty on a skateboard, Biff’s car crashes into a truck full of what?

Biff's driving is no match for Marty’s skateboarding prowess. His crashing into manure is a significant moment that will be repeated.


What happens to 1985 Doc during their encounter with the Libyan terrorists?

Marty uses the DeLorean to escape the terrorists. Doc tries to face the Libyans, but he is shot.


Marty’s mom became infatuated with him according to what theory, according to Doc?

The Nightingale effect means that the caregiver forms some kind of affection for the person they are taking care of. It stems from Florence Nightingale, a pioneering English nurse.


What soda brand is Marty’s favorite?

Marty usually drinks the sugar-free kind of Pepsi. During the ‘80s, they called it Pepsi Free, which is what he orders in the ‘50s diner.


Since Marty affected major events in 1955, this impacts his life in 1985. What is the number one implication of these changes for him?

Marty messed up his father and mother’s accidental meetup, which led to their love affair. If they don’t fall in love, Marty and his siblings will not be born, ever!


Marty’s only hope for his parents to get together is for them to meet up during what high school dance?

The Enchantment Under The Sea dance is important in the lives of Marty’s parents. They always mention this dance to their kids in 1985.


Marty is the youngest kid in the McFly household. How many other kids are there?

Marty’s older brother works in a fast food joint, while his sister is also in a similar blue-collar work situation. But Marty’s time travel will change all that.


During the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, Marty has to replace the band leader and play which instrument?

Marty is a guitar enthusiast. At the beginning of the film, he hooks up his electric guitar to Doc’s huge experimental speaker-amplifiers.


Which legendary rock-and-roll song does Marty play during the dance?

Johnny B. Goode was a song released in 1958, 3 years after Marty’s 1955 visit. Marty announced that the “kids will love it” when it hits the airwaves.


Teenage George McFly finally makes Lorraine start to fall in love with him. How does he do that?

George finally musters enough courage to defend the girl of his dreams. When he whacks Biff, Lorraine sees him as her hero.


What does teenage George still have to do during the dance to ensure Marty’s existence in the future?

After George hits Biff, another guy easily snatches Lorraine away from him during the dance. But again, he musters enough courage to push the guy away and finally kiss Lorraine.


After Marty's successful time travel back to his present, he sees that Doc survived being shot by the Libyan terrorists. What saved him?

Marty wanted to protect Doc from this future mishap when he was in 1955. He tried to warn Doc that he would be shot.


How did 1985 Doc know that he should wear a vest to save his life?

Since 1955 Doc didn’t want to listen to Marty’s warnings about the future, the teen wrote Doc a letter. The scientist initially tore it up, but he eventually read it, and saved his own life.


Back in 1985, Doc fetches Marty for another time-travel adventure, but they bring Marty’s girlfriend this time. What is her name?

Jennifer meets up with Marty the day after he arrives home from the past. He discovers that many things in his life have changed, but his Jennifer is still there for him.


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