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Back to the Future
Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Back to the Future: The Doc Who Never Was Back to the Future
"The Doc Who Never Was"
Back to the Future #2
Story by Bob Gale and John Barber
Script by John Barber
Art by Marcel Ferreira
Colors by Diego Rodriguez
Letters by Shawn Lee


When the government asks Doc to invent a time machine in 1962, what will be his response?


Read the story summary at Futurepedia


Notes from the Back to the Future chronology


This story has bookends placed roughly around 1890, after Doc and Clara are married and have their sons, Jules and Verne.


Didja Know?


The title of the story borrows from that of the 1953 book and 1956 movie adaptation, The Man Who Never Was.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Marshal Strickland






Marty McFly


General Groves

Colonel Lomax

Goldie Wilson



Didja Notice?


Doc's story opens on October 24, 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted from October 16–28, 1962, when the Soviet Union attempted to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, threatening U.S. security. The treaty that ended the crisis required the Soviets to remove all their missiles from Cuba and is generally believed to have been successful, leaving no missiles behind. 


General Groves remarks that he's retired since the Manhattan Project. Groves and Doc worked together on the Manhattan Project as related in "Looking for a Few Good Scientists".


    On page 6 of the story, notice that Doc's room-sized "temporal field capacitor" is laid out in the same shape as the eventual flux capacitor.

    An early draft of the script of Back to the Future referred to the "temporal field capacitor". The name was changed to "flux capacitor" to make it easier for actors to say. So, now the "temporal field capacitor" has become a primitive version of the flux capacitor.


On page 8 of the story, Doc uses the same phrasing he later uses in Back to the Future, "The correct question is when the hell are they?"


On page 9 of the story, it appears that Doc is in the habit of allowing Copernicus to sleep on his bed at night.


On page 10 of the story, a version of Marty appears from time who speaks Russian instead of English. His dialog is in Cyrillic and I haven't been able to translate it.


On page 11 of the story, soldiers who appear to be relatively modern to the 1960s are squaring off against centuriae of Ancient Rome.


In the last panel of page 11, the sign for Twin Pines Mall is seen, but without the words on it.


On page 12, Doc sees some vehicles resembling flying saucers during his nightmarish future tour.


The story implies Doc burned down the house in order to destroy the temporal field capacitor to keep it out of government hands and gain the insurance money so he wouldn't need government money. That only works for the Doc who existed after Marty travelled to 1955 and met Doc there (in Back to the Future). But, in the original timeline (with no 1955 Marty) Doc wouldn't have had his vision, so did he still burn down the house for the same reason? I think the story may be a tall tale of Doc's that also sort of helps him cover up his insurance fraud! 


DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual Notes from the DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owners' Workshop Manual

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, hardcover edition, published 2021)


On page 17, Doc's journal entry states that Copernicus took an immediate dislike to Colonel Lomax.


Doc reflects that government financing and a team of physicists and technicians working under him is "to quote Shakespeare, 'a consummation devoutly to be wished.'" This is a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet.


Doc writes in his journal here about the dream he had of Nazis, the Red Army, Roman Legions, and Conquistadors all with time machines, as seen in "The Doc Who Never Was".


The newspaper article clipping about the Brown mansion burning down states that it was built in 1910 by architects Greene & Greene. Greene & Greene were the architects of the Gamble House, where the exteriors of the Brown Mansion were shot in the films.


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