Back to the Future Part III
Back to the Future Part III poster
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Neil Canton
Bob Gale

Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Mary Steenburgen
Thomas F. Wilson
Lea Thompson

Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Editing by Harry Keramidas

Arthur Schmidt

Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release May 25, 1990
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million
Gross revenue $244,527,583
Preceded by Back to the Future Part II

Back to the Future Part III is a 1990 American science fiction comedy Western film. It is the third and final installment of the Back to the Future trilogy. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis and starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Mary Steenburgen, Thomas F. Wilson, and Lea Thompson. The film takes place immediately after the events of Back to the Future Part II. While stranded in 1955 during his time travel adventures, Marty McFly (Fox) discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown (Lloyd), trapped in the year 1885, was killed by Biff Tannen's great-grandfather Buford. Marty decides to travel to 1885 to rescue Doc.

Back to the Future Part III was filmed in California and Arizona, and was produced on a $40 million budget back-to-back with Back to the Future Part II. Part III was released in the United States on May 25, 1990, six months after the previous installment. Part III received generally positive reviews from critics, and although it was the lowest-grossing of the series' three films, it was commercially successful, earning $244.53 million at the box office, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film of 1990.


On November 12, 1955, Marty McFly discovers that his friend Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown had become trapped in the year 1885. Marty, with the 1955 Doc, uses the information in Doc's 1885 letter to locate and repair the DeLorean. While retrieving the car, Marty spots a tombstone with Doc's name, dated six days after the letter. Learning that Doc was killed by Biff Tannen's great-grandfather, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, Marty decides to go back to 1885 to save Doc.

Marty arrives on September 2, 1885, in the middle of a United States Cavalry pursuit of Indians. While evading the pursuit, the DeLorean's fuel line is torn, forcing Marty to hide the car in a cave and walk to Hill Valley. Marty meets his Irish-born great-great-grandparents, Seamus and Maggie McFly, and also runs afoul of Buford and his gang. Buford tries to hang Marty, but Doc saves him. Doc agrees to leave 1885, but with the DeLorean out of gasoline and no more available, there is no way to accelerate the car to 88 miles per hour.

After some experimentation, Doc devises a scheme to use a locomotive to push the DeLorean up to speed. As Doc and Marty explore the rail spur they intend to use, they spot an out-of-control horse-drawn wagon. Doc saves the passenger, Clara Clayton, and the two fall in love. Buford tries killing Doc at a town festival, but Marty intervenes. Buford then goads Marty into a showdown in two days' time. Consulting the photograph of Doc's tombstone, Marty and Doc note that Doc's name has disappeared, but the date on the tombstone remains unchanged. Doc warns Marty that he, not Doc, might be killed by Buford.

The night before their departure, Marty and Doc place the DeLorean onto the rail spur. At Clara's house, Doc tells Clara he is from the future, but Clara believes it is an excuse to end their relationship and angrily dismisses him. Distraught, Doc returns to the town saloon to get drunk, but Marty rides to the saloon and convinces Doc to leave with him. However, Doc drinks a single shot of whiskey and (due to extreme alcohol intolerance) passes out instantly. Buford arrives early and calls out Marty, but Marty has finally realized his reputation is unimportant and refuses to fight. Doc revives after drinking the bartender's special "Wake-Up Juice" and tries fleeing with Marty, but Buford's gang captures Doc, forcing Marty to duel. Marty uses a firebox door from a stove as a bullet-proof vest, battling Buford on his own terms. During the fistfight that follows, Buford destroys the tombstone, is knocked unconscious and arrested for an earlier robbery. Marty and Doc depart to "borrow" the locomotive.

Clara is leaving on the train when she overhears a salesman discussing a man he met in the saloon, despondent about her recent breakup. Realizing the man is Doc, Clara applies the emergency brake and runs back to town. She discovers Doc's model of the time machine and rides after him. Doc and Marty, having stolen the train at gunpoint, begin pushing the DeLorean along the spur line, attempting to get it up to 88 miles per hour. Clara boards the locomotive while Doc is climbing towards the DeLorean. Doc encourages Clara to join him, intending to bring her to 1985. As she climbs to Doc, Clara falls and is left hanging by her dress. Marty passes the hoverboard to Doc, who saves Clara. They coast away from the train as the DeLorean disappears through time, while the locomotive falls off the unfinished bridge.

Marty arrives on October 27, 1985. He escapes the powerless DeLorean before it is hit by a freight train and destroyed. Marty discovers that everything has returned to the improved timeline. Marty finds Jennifer sleeping on her front porch. Later, he uses the lessons he learned in 1885 to avoid being goaded into a street race with Needles, avoiding a potential automobile accident. Jennifer opens the fax message she kept from 2015 and watches as the message regarding Marty being fired becomes erased.

Marty takes Jennifer to the time machine wreckage. As they survey the remains, a locomotive equipped with a flux capacitor appears, manned by Doc, Clara, and their two children Jules and Verne. Doc gives Marty a photo of the two of them by the clockworks at the 1885 festival. Jennifer inquires about the fax, and Doc tells them it means that the future has not been written yet. After the Browns bid farewell to their friends, Doc’s train converts into an aerial craft and roars off into an unknown time.


  • Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Seamus McFly
  • Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown
  • Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton
  • Thomas F. Wilson as Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen and Biff Tannen
  • Lea Thompson as Maggie McFly and Lorraine Baines-McFly
  • James Tolkan as Marshal James Strickland
  • Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker
  • Jeffrey Weissman as George McFly
  • Flea as Douglas J. Needles

External links

BTTF favicon

Back to the Future
Back to the FutureBack to the Future Part IIBack to the Future Part III

Marty McFlyEmmett BrownBiff TannenGeorge McFlyLorraine Baines McFlyJennifer Parker

Christopher Lloyd films

Back to the Future (1985)  · Back to the Future Part II (1999)  · Back to the Future Part III (1990)  · Suburban Commando (1991)  · Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)  ·

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