Emmett Brown

Emmett Lathrop Brown, Ph.D., commonly referred to as Doc Brown, is a fictional scientist character in the Back to the Future franchise. In the world of the franchise, he is the inventor of the world's first and second time machines, the first (counting in order of his personal chronology) constructed using a 1981 DeLorean sports car, and the second constructed using a steam engine.

Emmett Brown
Back to the Future character
Doc Brown.JPG
Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett Brown
First appearanceBack to the Future (1985)
Last appearanceBack to the Future: The Musical (2020)
Created byRobert Zemeckis
Bob Gale
Portrayed byChristopher Lloyd
Voiced by
In-universe information
Full nameEmmett Lathrop Brown
  • Emmett Brown
  • Dr. Emmett Brown
  • Doc Brown
  • Dr. Emmett L. Brown
  • Emmett Von Braun
FamilyJudge Erhardt Gustav Von Braun
(later: Judge Erhardt Gustav Brown) (father)
Sarah Brown[1]
SpouseClara Clayton Brown
  • Jules Eratosthenes Brown (son)
  • Verne Newton Brown (son)
HomeHill Valley, California
Time travel
Original time1985
Known years visited1885, 1955, 1985, 1985A, 2015

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.[2] In 2008, Dr. Emmett Brown was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, ranking at #20.[3]

Fictional biographyEdit

He appears to possess great admiration for scientists from 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. His favorite author is Jules Verne and his family name was originally "von Braun" during World War I.[4]

Emmett's family moved to Hill Valley from Germany in 1908, and Emmett was born sometime between 1919-1922. In 1943 Doc was hired for the Manhattan Project, Which he presumably worked on until It ended in 1945. Although initially wealthy because of his inheritance, he spent his entire family fortune on his time travel project. When 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, he 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, enough for him to win 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 due to him conducting dangerous experiments and crafting devices believed impossible to construct in reality. Being very loud and sprightly, he often speaks with wide-eyed expressions and broad gestures ("Great Scott!" being one of his 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".

Doc and Marty met when the latter was 14, several years prior to the events of the first time travel experiment. Marty, out of curiosity, 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.[5]

In the original timeline, in contrast with Marty's shy and unassertive father, George McFly, Doc is a supportive and open-minded mentor for Marty. Doc's positive influence in turn allows Marty to mentor George in 1955, which appears to encourage George's 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 post time travel 1985.

Doc has been involved with illegal and criminal enterprises (albeit as a means to obtain items for his inventions he could not purchase legally) but he is naive and care-free about the consequences of his actions. 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 shoddy bomb casing full of used pinball machine parts!"

Despite being intelligent and logical for the most part, Doc is somewhat naive at times about the unknown possible uses of his time machine, initially actively explores the course of the world's future and tries to alter the past or future of the principal characters to improve their lives. However, events lead him to conclude that time travel is too dangerous for mankind. His conviction initially strengthened 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" and asks Marty to destroy it once he returns to his own time. Nonetheless, Doc pursues a romantic relationship with Clara despite the risks of further disrupting the timeline.

However, after having been left behind in 1885 when Marty departs in the DeLorean for 1985, Doc starts a family with Clara; the couple have two sons, Jules and Verne. He eventually builds another time machine out of a steam locomotive, completed it on September 1893,[1] and the Browns return to 1985 in order to pick up Einstein and meet with Marty again before setting out for another adventure.

Lloyd reprised the role of Doc Brown in the 2015 direct-to-video short film Doc Brown Saves the World, which reveals that he has returned to his time at some point after the events of Back to the Future Part III and erased the future witnessed in Back to the Future Part II as the various inventions of that time led to mass obesity and Griff Tannen triggering a nuclear holocaust.

Other Back to the Future appearancesEdit

Doc Brown, as he appeared in Back to the Future: The Animated Series.


The character's family name is similar to German rocket engineer Wernher von Braun until his family changed it to Brown during WW1. Emmett or Emit spelled slightly differently is the backward spelling of time. His second name, Lathrop, roughly spells portal backwards.

Other appearancesEdit


Rick Sanchez of the American animated series Rick and Morty (voiced by Justin Roiland) began as a parody of Doc Brown; in September 2021, Christopher Lloyd portrayed Sanchez himself in a series of promotional interstitials for the series' two-part fifth season finale, alongside Jaeden Martell as Morty Smith (also voiced by Roiland in the series), a character inspired by Marty McFly.[11][12][13] Addressing Roiland's and his own portrayals of Rick compared to Doc Brown, Christopher Lloyd stated "that he felt like Doc and Rick were like two brothers that took different paths."[14]


  1. ^ a b Gale, Bob; Walser, Joe (2021). DeLorean Time Machine: Doc Brown's Owner's Workshop Manual. San Rafael, California: Insight Editions. ISBN 9781683836216.
  2. ^ Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale Q&A, Back to the Future [2002 DVD], recorded at the University of Southern California
  3. ^ "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  4. ^ "Back to the Future | Part III | 1955 [Discovering Doc's Tombstone]". YouTube.
  5. ^ English, Jason (16 August 2011). "How Marty McFly and Doc Brown Became Friends". Mental Floss. Felix Dennis. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Back to the Future – The Official Site". www.backtothefuture.com. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Back to the Future musical sets date for world premiere in Manchester". BBC News. 17 May 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  8. ^ "'Broken-hearted' Back to the Future producers issue statement on Manchester musical". Manchester Evening News. 10 September 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  9. ^ "Back to the Future confirms new West End opening date". WhatsOnStage. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  10. ^ "Christopher Lloyd Suits Up as Doc Brown for Back to the Future Series: 'It Was Kind of An Adventure' (Exclusive)". Toofab. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  11. ^ Plante, Corey (26 April 2017). "'Rick and Morty' Exists Because Its Creators Are Huge Trolls". Inverse. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  12. ^ Pulliam-Moore, Charles (3 September 2021). "Rick and Morty…This Is Heavy". Gizmodo. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  13. ^ Guttmann, Graeme (5 September 2021). "New Rick & Morty Live-Action Clip Has Christopher Lloyd Eat a Pickle". Screen Rant. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  14. ^ Cummings, Paul B. (September 5, 2021). "Paul B. Cummings: "Chris said to me that he felt like Doc and Rick were like two brothers that took different paths. I thought that was a very interesting thing for him to say."". r/rickandmorty. Retrieved September 5, 2021.

External linksEdit