‘Back to the Future’: Bob Gale answers much-debated question about third movie

Most time travel stories tend to be a bit (or extremely) headache-inducing if you think too hard about the science and the mechanics of the thing. “Back to the Future” is no different. The trilogy has spurred unending debate among fans about the series” version of time travel.

One persistent question about “Back to the Future Part III”: In 1885, when Marty tells Doc that they”re out of gas (thanks to the fuel tank getting pierced with a Native American”s arrow), why don”t they just go siphon some gas out of the DeLorean that Doc buried in Delgado Mine?

Bob Gale, writer-producer of each movie in the trilogy, told HitFix this “official answer,” as he called it:

“There”s two really solid reasons,” he said. “First of all, if you”re going to put a car in storage for a really long time, you drain all the fluids out of the car. Talk to any car person, and they will tell you that. So Doc definitely would have drained all the fluids out of the car. He wrapped the car in skins, and he”s gonna preserve it.”

“The other reason,” Gale continued, “is that if they disturbed the car and something broke on it, then it could have created a time paradox for Marty to get there in the first place. So it was just better to leave [the DeLorean in the mine] alone [in 1885].”

Fans will also remember that before Marty takes his leap across time out of the drive-in theater in 1955, Doc says, “I put gas in the tank” – likely meant to imply that it was empty when he and Marty dug it out of the mine.

So there you have it. One mystery settled.

For more of HitFix”s coverage commemorating the 30th anniversary of “Back to the Future,” set your time circuits to right on over here.