Emmett Brown
Emmett Brown
Gender: Male
Portrayed By: Christopher Lloyd
First Appearance: Back to the Future

Dr. Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown, Ph.D., is a fictional character in the Back to the Future trilogy. He is the inventor of the first time machine, which he builds out of a DeLorean sports car. The character is portrayed by Christopher Lloyd in all three films, as well as in the live action sequences of the animated series. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta in the animated series. The character's appearance and mannerisms are loosely inspired by Leopold Stokowski and Albert Einstein. In 2008, Dr. Emmett Brown was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, ranking at #76.

Character background

Emmett refers to himself as "a student of all sciences" and is depicted as a passionate inventor. His homes in 1985 and 1955 are shown to contain various labour-saving gadgets, and he tests an intended mind-reading device on Marty McFly, during the scene in Back to the Future when the latter visits him in 1955.

He appears to be heavily influenced by scientists of previous eras, naming successive pet dogs Copernicus and Einstein, and having portraits of Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein in his laboratory. He also states in Back to the Future Part III that his favorite author is Jules Verne, and reveals to Marty that his family name was originally von Braun before World War I, possibly an allusion to the real-life and contemporary rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.

Emmett's family moved to Hill Valley, the fictional setting of the series, in 1908. Although initially wealthy because of his family's savings, Emmett states in Back to the Future that he spent his "entire family fortune" on his time travel project. Newspaper clippings at the beginning of the film show the Brown mansion was destroyed by fire in 1962, and the property sold to developers; Doc subsequently resided in the mansion's garage. Once broke, Doc established a privately owned business to offer 24-hour scientific services, building ingenious devices for his customers.

Emmett's work appears to be highly regarded; a scene from Back to the Future Part II shows a newspaper article describing his winning an award for his work. However, he is shown as absent-minded at times, and various statements by other characters inhabiting Hill Valley indicate that he is generally regarded as strange, eccentric, or insane. He often speaks with wide-eyed expressions and broad gestures—"Great Scott!" being one of the character's well-known catchphrases—and tends to be overly verbose in his delivery, referring in one case to a school dance as a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual".

No film in the trilogy shows Emmett having any friends besides Marty and Jennifer, Marty's girlfriend. The films do not depict how Doc and Marty originally met, but production notes and comments by franchise creators Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale have stated that Doc and Marty met several years prior to the events of Back to the Future, when Marty sneaked into Doc's lab after being warned by his parents to stay away from him. Happy to be revered as 'cool', Doc hired Marty as his part-time lab assistant.

In the original timeline, in contrast with Marty's unassertive father, George McFly, Doc is an encouraging and supportive mentor figure for Marty. Doc's positive influence in turn allows Marty to mentor George in 1955, which appears to encourage his later success as a novelist, and help him become a better husband and father. One line in particular, "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything," originates from Doc. Marty repeats it to George in 1955, who repeats it back to Marty in the "improved" 1985 shown at the end of Back to the Future.

Back to the Future alludes to Doc being involved with illegal and criminal enterprises—albeit as a means to obtain items for his inventions he could not purchase legally—but he is naïve and flippant about the consequences of his actions. In an early scene, he excitedly tells Marty how he cheated Libyan terrorists out of stolen plutonium: "they wanted me to build them a bomb, so I took their plutonium and, in turn, gave them a shiny bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts!"

Doc Brown begins the trilogy somewhat innocent, and very enthusiastic about the possible uses of his time machine, initially actively trying to alter the past or future of the principal characters to improve their lives. However, events throughout the story, particularly in Back to the Future Part II, lead him to conclude that time travel is too hazardous for humankind, and that the time machine should be destroyed. His conviction is strengthened in Back to the Future Part III, when he realizes that he has unwittingly altered history by preventing the death of Clara Clayton in 1885; he concludes that the time machine has "caused nothing but disaster."

However, after having been left behind in 1885 when Marty departs in the DeLorean for 1985, Doc starts a family with Clara. He eventually creates another time machine and builds it into a steam locomotive, which he uses to return to 1985 with the intent of collecting his dog, Einstein. It is clear that he traveled to an unspecified point further in the future, as his locomotive time machine is shown at the end of Back to the Future Part III with a "hover conversion" akin to that of the DeLorean at the end of the first movie. The trilogy ends with Doc and his family departing 1985 to an unspecified destination that is not in the future, as seen from 1985.

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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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