Where does Back to the Future Day come from?
Back to the Future Day comes from the 1989 science fiction film Back to the Future Part II. In the film, the main character, Marty McFly, must time travel thirty years into the future to prevent personal disaster for his future family. He arrives on October 21, 2015.
This day was chosen for plot reasons. In the film’s universe, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2015—a joke, because, when the movie was released, the last time the team claimed baseball’s biggest championship was in 1908. Foreknowledge of this fact allows the film’s villain, Biff Tannen, to become rich. So, Marty McFly’s travel date needed to be a day on which the World Series’ winners could be announced. October 21 was picked as a probable date, since the competition generally happened in mid-to-late October at the time.
Who uses Back to the Future Day?
Before the Back to the Future Day arrived, some people tried to trick people into believing other dates marked the big day.
The pranks may have started with a tweet from Total Films on July 5, 2010, claiming that date was Back to the Future Day. They included a photoshopped image of the movie’s time machine clock to “back up” their assertion. On June 27, 2012, Total Film repeated the prank. Apparently, the joke was intended to promote the company’s box set of Back to the Future DVDs. The prank became an easy way to trick friends on social media, especially since there is a website that produces photoshopped images of the time machine clock for pranks every day. One Tumblr blog produced daily images with the caption “Today is the day Marty McFly goes to the future!” It’s now inactive, its last post having been on October 21, 2015. The prank was popular enough that the fact-checking website Snopes created a page about it.
On Back to the Future Day, many media outlets ran stories on what Back to the Future Part II got right—or wrong—in its vision of the future. The film almost correctly predicted the Cubs ending their over 100-year World Series drought, but they were a year off: the Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series in November 2016.
“Marty McFly's reaction to the future? 'It seems like 2015 kinda sucks.' #backtothefutureday”
Today Show Facebook (October 22, 2015)
“Wait a second, it’s also Back to the Future day!!”
@NachoSoto Twitter (April 18, 2017)
“Over the past few years, Photoshopped images of 'Future's' DeLorean time machine have popped up on the Web, insisting that TODAY is 'Back to the Future Day.'”
Todd Leopold, “'Back to the Future' Day: Time is in flux, and the 'Future' is today,” CNN (November 2, 2015)