Great Scott! The Unexpected Afterlife of 'Back to The Future'

The cartoons, comic books and games that followed Marty McFly and Doc Brown's cinematic career.
Universal Studios and U-Drive Joint Venture

This Wednesday sees the real world finally arrive at the same date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in the second Back to the Future movie, offering up a chance for nostalgic Pepsi releases, fake Jaws trailers, and even a new Doc Brown short, starring Christopher Lloyd himself. For those hungry for even more Back to the Future however, there is a surprising amount out there to be discovered.

A year after the release of Back to the Future Part III, Doc and Marty were once again traveling through time, this time on a weekly basis as part of an animated series that ran two seasons on CBS (September 1991 through December 1992). Set after the final movie, it was based on the premise that Doc, Clara and their kids relocated to the present day after the events of BTTF 3 and now traveled through time alongside Marty in a either a rebuilt DeLorean or flux capacitor-powered steam train.

While Michael J. Fox didn't return for the series, Lloyd did, playing Doc Brown in a series of live-action inserts included in each episode. (The Simpsons' Dan Castellaneta provided the voice of the character for the animated segments.) Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson and James Tolkan each reprised their live action roles — Clara, Biff and Strickland — from the movies for the animated stories.

Lloyd's continued involvement in Back to the Future-related activities is a constant in the series' strange afterlife; beyond the animated series, he's played Doc Brown in the 1991 Universal Studios attraction Back to the Future: The Ride (which, like the animated series, suggested that Doc and his family returned to the present day and rebuilt the DeLorean after the third movie; the ride also included Wilson playing Biff one more time) and lent his voice to the 2010 episodic videogame Back to The Future: The Game and this year's Lego Dimensions. (He also played the character in a live action ad for the latter.) And that's not mentioning the Doc Brown Saves the Day short, to be included on the new Back to the Future Blu-ray release …!

Not that Lloyd is involved in every subsequent incarnation of Back to the Future; a concert tour showcasing Alan Silvestri's score for the trilogy went un-Lloyd-ed, while a proposed musical based on the original movie — originally scheduled to open in London this fall, but pushed back to 2016 due to the original director departing the project — will feature an all-new cast altogether, for obvious reasons.

As if video games, theme park rides and animated series weren't enough, the story of Back to the Future is about to start over once again in a new comic book series co-written by Bob Gale, co-creator of the original movie. IDW Publishing's new Back to the Future comic book series doesn't just include the first meeting between Marty and Doc, it goes even further back in time to reveal Doc's involvement in the Manhattan Project — a story that just might be a shout-out to an infamous alternate ending once considered for the movie involving a nuclear explosion.

(The release date of the first issue of the comic? Oct. 21, 2015 — because, by sheer coincidence, that date falls on a Wednesday, which is the day new comic books get released to comic book stores.)

While many might be sad that Gale and co-writer/director Robert Zemeckis have ruled out remakes or even further sequels to the movie trilogy, it's clear that there's far more out there than just the movies for fans to get Back to. And if that isn't enough, there's also the alternate universe offered by the official novelization of the first film — an alternate universe that opens with the death, destruction and a nuclear explosion. Someone should really work out a way to go back and change that, somehow …

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