Biff Tannen
Biff Tannen.1
Gender: Male
Portrayed By: Thomas F. Wilson
First Appearance: Back to the Future

Biff Howard Tannen is a fictional character in the Back to the Future trilogy. He serves as the primary antagonist of the first two films. Thomas F. Wilson plays Biff in all three films as well as the ride, and voiced the character in the animated series.

Character biography

Early life

In all of the timelines depicted in the films, Biff was born on March 26, 1937, in Hill Valley, California. He is the great-grandson of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, son of Kid Tannen, and the grandfather of Griff Tannen (although it isn't specified in the movie that Griff's last name was actually Tannen, Griff did call Biff Grandpa, after which Biff confirms it to Marty who was pretending to be Marty Jr.). He is not very bright and only got through high school by bullying George McFly to do his homework for him. Biff is feared by most of his schoolmates. He is less brave when he is without his gang (Match, Skinhead, and 3-D). He also has a crush on Lorraine Baines and constantly refers to her as "my girl." Lorraine does not return the sentiments.

By 1985, Biff's marital status is unknown – no mention of a wife or children was ever made in the trilogy,[1] although Biff has a teenage grandson Griff by 2015, suggesting that Biff had at least one child by 1985. The animated series reveals that Biff has a son, Biff, Jr. (who, according to an early script for Back to the Future Part II, owns the Cafe 80's), although this may not be canon. A draft script reveals that his middle initial is "H" for "Howard", although his middle name was never mentioned in the trilogy. Also, a BTTF comic showed a "Mugsy Tannen" living in 1920s Prohibition-era Chicago as a gang boss.

The exact details of Biff's life before 1955 are not known. According to the film, he has been living with his grandma, Gertrude Tannen, at 1809 Mason Street for some time by November 1955. The whereabouts of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Tannen, are not disclosed in the films (in the Back to the Future: The Animated Series Frank Tannen was a German Sergeant in the United States Army in 1944. It seemed likely that Frank was Biff's father, as well as the son of Gertrude Tannen (who, by 1955, was "the only Tannen in the book") In Back to the Future: The Game, Kid Tannen is his father).

Biff's grandmother is not shown on screen, but her shrill voice (which was also that of Thomas F. Wilson) can be heard yelling at him. He had to repeat a year of school (explaining why, despite being a year older than George and Lorraine, he is in the same grade as them), although it is not known exactly when he was "kept behind" – this was probably some years prior to 1955, as Biff appears to have been bullying George for some time before this date. His catch phrase is butthead.

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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

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