Historical Inaccuracies in ‘Back to the Future Part II’ – A Definitive Visual Guide

Welcome to the future! As you no doubt recall, 2015 is the year that Marty McFly traveled to in ‘Back to the Future Part II’. As forward-thinking as director Robert Zemeckis and the other filmmakers may have been, they unfortunately got one or two little things slightly inaccurate in their depiction of the year. Let’s see if we can identify where they slipped up.

As we crossed the threshold into 2015, I’m sure that you’ve seen a lot of people on the web or social media making ‘Back to the Future Part II’ jokes, but has any of them taken the time to systematically go through the Blu-ray and grab screenshots of every anachronism in the order they appear?

Let’s start at the beginning. Some of these predictions are more on-the-money than others.

Doc’s Wacky Sunglasses

BTTF2 - Sunglasses

The movie opens right where the original ‘Back to the Future’ ended, in 1985 as Doc Brown returns from the future to collect Marty and Jennifer. His goofy outfit and the neon-colored costumes that will be pervasive in the following scenes are very much a 1980s extrapolation of what the future might look like.

Of special note here are his seemingly solid-metal glasses that have some sort of Heads-Up Display that he uses when driving. While this might not visually look like anything that people really wear today, it’s not too far removed in concept from Google Glass, is it?

Mr. Fusion

BTTF2 - Mr Fusion

Sorry, but we don’t have personal fusion reactors (that fuel-up by recycling garbage) on our cars yet. With advances in hybrids and electric cars, however, let’s give this another couple decades and see where we’re at.

Digital License Plates

BTTF2 - License Plate

I’m not aware of any states that have switched to using shiny reflective bar codes on automobile license plates yet. Again, the movie may have just jumped the gun by a few years on this one.

Flying Cars? No So Much

BTTF2 - Flying Cars

Although this is a staple of countless sci-fi movies, I don’t see flying cars as ever being a practical reality. Think about it, would you want cars dropping out of the sky onto people’s heads after a fender-bender?

Weather Control

BTTF2 - Weather Service

After a rainstorm stops exactly on cue, Doc makes a remark about the wonderful efficiency of the “Weather Service.” This seems pretty far-fetched.

Laserdiscs in the Trash

BTTF2 - Laserdiscs

Hey, here’s one that the movie sort-of gets right! Piled up with the trash in a back alley are a huge stack of old Laserdiscs. Indeed, that obsolete format is basically worthless today. However, most people already got rid of theirs years ago (myself excepted).

Rejuvenation Clinic

BTTF2 - Rejuvenation Clinic

Doc peels off a latex mask to reveal that he has undergone some sort of “rejuvenation” treatment to remove wrinkles, change his blood, and have his spleen and colon replaced in order to add 30 or 40 years to his life. (The joke of course is that he looks basically the same either way.) Plastic surgery may be a huge industry today, but I don’t think we’re quite as advanced as Doc implies.

Doc’s Binoculars

BTTF2 - Binoculars

BTTF2 - Binoculars2

Doc uses digital binoculars to spy on Marty, Jr. I suppose we could probably do this with a smartphone app.

Phone Booths Still Exist

BTTF2 - Phone Booth

‘Back to the Future Part II’ failed to foresee the prevalence of cell phones in modern society. Phone booths today are basically extinct.

One Size Fits All

BTTF2 - Sneakers

BTTF2 - Jacket

Marty puts on a pair of sneakers with “power laces” and a jacket that automatically adjusts itself to his size. Good luck finding these at Old Navy or Foot Locker.

BTTF2 - Inside Out Pants

Doc tells Marty that the kids today all wear their jeans inside-out. I think that would actually be less ridiculous than droopy jeans that hang down below their butts, which is a sad reality.

$50 for a Pepsi?

BTTF2 - $50 Pepsi

Inflation hasn’t been quite that bad.

The Cubs Win the World Series!

BTTF2 - Newspaper

Other revelations: The population of America has apparently skyrocketed to the point that USA Today has over 3 billion readers. The country also has a female President.

The references to “Queen Diana” are particularly unfortunate.

Swift Justice

BTTF2 - Swift Justice

The justice system moves much faster now that all lawyers have been abolished. If only!

Fill ‘Er Up?

BTTF2 - Gas Station

Gas stations in the movie’s 2015 are fully robotic. In reality, “Full Service” is mostly a thing of the past and you’re expected to get out of your car and pump your own damn gas.

The Revenge of 3D

BTTF2 - Jaws 19 Holomax

We may not have had any more ‘Jaws’ sequels since ‘Back to the Future Part II’ was released (certainly not enough to reach a part 19), but we’ll be up to a fourth ‘Jurassic Park’ this year. Sequels and franchises are the bread-and-butter of Hollywood’s business. Zemeckis also correctly predicted the return of 3D and the dominance of the premium-screen movie theater. We may not have hologram projections yet, but our CGI quality is somewhat better than what’s seen here.

Hologram Billboards

BTTF2 - Hologram Ads

I guess nothing screams “the future” like holograms. (See also: ‘Minority Report’.) Holographic billboards may not be a real thing, but we do have plenty of video billboards that will talk at you.

1980s Nostalgia

BTTF2 - Nostalgia

The movie hits the nail on the head with this one. ’80s nostalgia is huge today.

BTTF2 - Antiques

There are so many fun things to look at in the window of this antiques shop. I used to have that ‘Jaws’ NES cartridge. How many items seen here did you own?

Robot Waiters

BTTF2 - Robot Waiter

The Café 80s has robot waiters that will respond to voice commands and take your order. I’d expect to see something like this in Japan, but not in a novelty theme restaurant that’s supposed to evoke the past.

The CRT monitor screens look terribly clunky and old-fashioned, but I suppose that part ties in with the ’80s theme.

Pepsi Perfect

Here’s that $50 Pepsi mentioned earlier.

“Pepsi Perfect,” not real. Instead we got Pepsi Max, Pepsi Next, Pepsi ONE, Pepsi Blue and Pepsi Generation. Huh.

Motion-Control Videogames

BTTF2 25 - Videogames

After Marty shows off his skills playing an old-school light gun arcade game (which subtly sets up his skill at gunfighting in the next sequel), a kid watching him remarks, “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy.” He must have a Wii or Kinect at home.

Bionic Implants

BTTF2 - Bionic Implants

The bully Griff supposedly has “bionic implants.” Every time he moves, we can hear the sound of whirring gears or servos. Real prostethic limbs can indeed have some bionic elements these days, but they’re reserved for people who need major reconstructive surgery, not a cosmetic enhancement. Give it a few years, though.

Telescoping Baseball Bat

BTTF2 - Baseball Bat

Griff threatens Marty with a baseball bat that telescopes out to extend its length. I’m not sure what the point of that would be.


BTTF2 - Hoverboard

Maybe soon. Maybe soon.

What the hell are these kids wearing?

Dust-Repellant Paper

BTTF2 - Dust Cover

“Now this has an interesting feature. It has a dust jacket. Books used to have these to protect the covers. Of course, that was before they had dust-repellant paper.”

An e-reader seems a little more useful.

Suspended Animation for Pets

BTTF2 - Suspended Animation Kennel

“I left him in a suspended animation kennel. Einstein never knew I was gone.”

When exactly did Doc put the dog in suspended animation? In the 1980s? Such a thing wouldn’t have existed then (not that it exists now either). Did he bring Einstein with him to the future, then put him in suspended animation until he went back to the past and returned again? Why bother? From the dog’s point of view, Doc would have been back the next day anyway.

Drone Reporters

BTTF2 - Drone Reporter

USA Today sends a drone to record the news immediately after it happens. We’re not too far off from this, I think.


BTTF2 - Trash Bot

This could be a cousin to the Roomba.

Flat Screen TVs

BTTF2 - Flat Screen TV

Other than the aspect ratio being wrong, this is otherwise pretty close.

Later, we see another screen that looks like it’s 16:9. The split-screen display mode isn’t very common, though.

BTTF2 - Split Screen TV

Hover Boots

BTTF2 - Hover Boots

More hover technology. When George throws his back out, he has to hang upside down from this contraption.

Biometric Payments

BTTF2 - Biometric Payments

Biff pays for his taxi by scanning his thumbprint. This may very well be the next upgrade for Apple Pay.

Home Automation

BTTF2 - Home Automation

When middle-aged Marty enters the house, he’s greeted by a computer voice that welcomes him and adjusts the lighting. Yeah, we have stuff like this now, though Marty’s house and neighborhood seem a little shabby for this type of tech to be common.

Dog Walking Drones

BTTF2 - Dog Walker Drone

Young Marty spots another drone out walking a dog. I’m sure something like this is inevitable.

Also notable in this scene is the obnoxious neon lighting on the curbs.

Instant Food

BTTF2 - Instant Pizza

BTTF2 - Instant Pizza2

BTTF2 - Instant Pizza3

Lorraine prepares an instant freeze-dried pizza for dinner. After a couple seconds in the Black & Decker Hydrator, the contents of the little bag come out a full-size steaming pie. For what it’s worth, the result looks better than real Pizza Hut takeout.

Virtual Reality

BTTF2 - Virtual Reality

Are Marty Jr. and his sister Marlene wearing Oculus Rift headsets?

Double Ties

BTTF2 - Two Ties

This is a fashion trend I’m fairly confident will never happen.

Video Chatting

BTTF2 - Video Chatting

Marty takes a video call on his TV. The quality is a little better than the pixelated mess I usually get out of Skype.

Just the Fax, Ma’am

BTTF2 - Faxes

Fax machines are very popular in the world of ‘Back to the Future Part II’. Marty’s house even has one in the closet. Such a waste of paper. The movie failed to predict email.

This Is Heavy

After this point, the movie leaves 2015 and transitions to a dystopic alternate-timeline version of 1985, and then from there back to 1955 again. Although I’m sure the 1950s scenes have their own share of anachronisms and inaccuracies, I’ll leave those for someone more familiar with the decade to suss out.

Keep in mind that the first section of the movie technically takes place in late October of 2015, so we still have about ten months for some of these world-changing developments to occur and become ubiquitous.


  1. Melvin

    Don’t forget that the events that happened in the Back to the Future 2015 were erased by Marty at the end of BTTF 3 when he refused to race that truck. So, it’s possible that none of those technologies actually happened either. It’s a stretch…

      • Man, this is really nitpicky, but I honestly think inferring that the Weather Service in BTTF2 “controls” the weather is a mistake because it’s not in the text of the movies anywhere else, and doesn’t line up with “time” as a theme.

        This take also assumes the word efficient is being used to describe a machine or a system — the Weather Service as a thing. But efficient, when describing people, is defined as “working in a well-organized and competent way”.

        Using that people definition, combined with time, particularly weather-timing, as a theme or obstacle, and what we most likely have hear is a throwaway line about accuracy that people are reading way too deeply. Also, if there were an all-powerful weather service, in what universe would they schedule rain during morning rush hour?

        Anyway, I don’t mean to poo-poo on the article or anything. It really put a smile on my face on what, otherwise, is a way-too-busy Monday. So cheers.

        • Freakyguy666

          Agreed. The term “efficiency” is meant to describe the people at the weather service and therefore their resulting accuracy in precisely predicting the weather is a result of that “efficiency”.

  2. Love the article, Josh! ‘Back to the Future’ is my favourite movie of all time (and I like both sequels a lot), so we can’t have enough articles on the subject. The ‘Doc looking the same’ after the visit to the clinic does make some sense and is explained in either a documentary or a commentary. Christopher Lloyd wore make-up to look older in ‘1985’ (versus 1955) in the first ‘Back to the Future’. This is especially noticeable in the Blu-ray version, which reveals a lot of the shoddy make-up (check his neck: freaky!). They chose to ‘avoid’ this make-up approach in parts II and III. Because Christopher Lloyd still looked a little younger than his 1985-self, they came up with the rejuvenation clinic idea.

  3. William Henley

    I’m not aware of any states that have switched to using shiny reflective bar codes on automobile license plates yet. Again, the movie may have just jumped the gun by a few years on this one.

    Maybe not shiny metal, but

    Several other states do it as well.

    You could say that a license plate holder would cover up the barcode, but I know at least in Texas, it is illegal to have a holder that covers up any writing on the license plate, including the tag stickers, state name, and I am assuming the bar code is included in that as well.

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