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9 life lessons anyone can learn from Back to the Future

By Alvin Soon - 25 Oct 2015

9 life lessons anyone can learn from Back to the Future

On the one hand, Back to the Future is a movie about a teenager who travels back through time, makes his mom fall head-over-heels in love with him instead of his dad and, as a result, almost erases his own existence.

On the other hand, Back to the Future (and its two sequels) is a heart-warming movie about the friendship between Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown and Marty McFly. The two risk their lives for each other many times throughout the three movies, and BTTF ultimately ends on a hopeful note about how nothing is set, and you can always make a better future for yourself.

That, and these eight others, are the valuable life lessons anyone can learn from the Back to the Future movies.

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT: If you still haven’t seen the wonderful Back to the Future trilogy, you’re in for a real treat. So stop reading now because there are massive spoilers ahead, and go watch the movies instead.

1. Don’t judge people because they’re weird

Sure, Doc Brown is a mad scientist who steals plutonium from Libyan rebels and spends his family fortune building a time machine out of a car. But Doc has a heart of gold, he cares deeply about his friend Marty, and risks his own life to save his future wife Clara Clayton from falling over a cliff.


2. Making your mom fall in love with you is a bad idea

Of course your mom loves you, but don’t make you mom fall in love love with you. That would lead to all sorts of bad news, like your parents never getting together and you never being born.


3. Skateboarding is a valuable life skill

His father is always getting bullied at work, and his school principal hates him. But once Marty McFly gets on his skateboard, he goes places: girls wave at him, he evades the town bullies, and his own mom even falls for him (see lesson 2).


4. Stand up for the people you love

When George McFly finally mans up and rescues Lorraine from Biff Tannen’s clutches, he changes his future entirely. Instead of becoming Biff’s peon in 1985, he matures into a confident, successful author. That’s the power of love.


5. If someone gives you a note from the future, just read it

If someone from the future gives you a note and tells you your life depends on it, just read it, space-time continuum be damned. It could really save your life.


6. Take care of strangers

When Marty is stranded in the wild west of 1885, his great-great-grandparents rescue him. When great-great-grandma Maggie asks great-great-granddad Seamus why he’s being so nice to a complete stranger, Seamus replies that, “It’s the right thing to do.”

Later, Seamus even gives his great-great-grandson some valuable life advice that ends up saving Marty’s life (see lesson 8).


7. Love is more important than time

When Clara races to join Doc, she almost falls off the train he and Marty had hijacked. Doc goes to rescue her from falling to her death, and the both of them levitate away on Marty’s hoverboard from 2015, leaving Marty to return to 1985 alone. Some things are just worth sacrificing your own time for.


8. Don’t sweat it if people call you “chicken”

Throughout the three BTTF movies, Marty McFly just can’t handle it when somebody calls him “chicken.” Only right at the end of BTTF III, when it’s really clear he could die from a needless duel with Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen, that he realizes it doesn’t matter what Tannen or anybody else says about him.

After Marty learns his lesson, he refuses a race back in 1985, which saves him from getting into a car accident. The very car accident which would have injured his wrist, stopped him from playing guitar, and get him fired from his job in 2015.


9. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one

After Marty successfully avoids the car accident, his girlfriend Jennifer opens Marty’s fax message from 2015, and the words “You’re fired!” fade away.

Later, Jennifer asks Doc Brown what it means, and he triumphantly declares, “It means your future hasn't been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you.”


Bonus: Make your future a good one

Watch Christopher Lloyd reprise his role from Back to the Future, re-dropping the invaluable life advice he gave at the end of Back to the Future III. Thanks Doc, for coming back for us one more time.

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