We updated our post from May 2014 with some new Lloyd cameos.
Christopher Lloyd won’t leave Doc Brown in the past. The 76-year-old actor still finds regular excuses to reprise his best-loved role — and now that Back to the Future Day is upon us (that being Oct. 21, 2015, the future date our heroes travel to in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II), we have an excuse to revisit all of Lloyd’s Doc Brown cameos. As the timeline below demonstrates, Lloyd has been doing quick cameos as his mad-scientist alter ego for years now, no doubt a lucrative sideline. The the idea of a wacky genius whisking ordinary people through time never gets old — just ask Dr. Who, who’s still popular after 50 years. Dr. Emmett L. Brown’s only been around for 30, but in that time, he’s popped up in sneaker commercials, civic-minded TV specials, casino games, theme park rides, animated shorts, video games, and South American talk shows. Here are the best of Lloyd’s extra-curricular “Great Scott!” moments.
1990: Doc Brown flies into ABC’s two-hour The Earth Day Special, alongside such iconic characters as Murphy Brown, the Huxtable family, the Golden Girls, and the gang from Cheers. In this segment, Brown warns Doogie Howser — who’s attending to an ill Mother Earth, played by Bette Midler — about the dangers of global warming. Couldn’t he have warned Congress, too?
1991: Back to the Future: The Ride is unveiled at Universal Studios. Technically it’s not a ride, but one of those cutting-edge motion simulators. The good Doc narrates the audience’s journey from Marty McFly’s hometown of Hill Valley, through the ice age, and into an active volcano, all to chase down Biff before he screws up the space-time continuum. Oh, Biff.
2004: Though he’s avoided the phrase “flux capacitor” for the better part of a decade, Lloyd resurrects Doc Brown for a Back to the Future-branded slot machine. As gamblers spend their coins matching up pixelated electric guitars, bicycles, and pictures of Marty’s mom, Doc pops up to say encouraging things like, “Perhaps that could have gone a little better, but in 1885 dollars, you’re rich!”
2007: Christopher Lloyd is digitally inserted into his Back to the Future scenes for a DirecTV ad, meaning that future Doc Brown is in present-day Hill Valley, as seen in the past. The timeline may be confusing, but the commercial gets right to the point; Lloyd’s opening line is “Great Scott! I forgot to tell Marty when he gets back to the future, he needs to get DirecTV HD!”
2008: The Back to the Future ride at Universal is replaced by a Simpsons ride. Lloyd pays his respects by voicing a Doc Brown cameo for the new attraction. As park visitors wait in line, they watch Doc have a time-altering encounter with Professor Frink, resulting in the creation of Krustyland.
2011: Doc Brown resurfaces to promote Nike’s official replica of Marty’s Back to the Future 2 sneakers. In this commercial, Bill Hader is an employee at the film’s Lone Pine Mall, trying to sell the light-up kicks to Kevin Durant, when Lloyd rushes in requesting power laces. Sure enough, Nike is on track to release self-tying laces next year. If Doc Brown says it, you can consider it done.
2011: You’ve seen Back to the Future’s climactic chase scene, but did you ever wonder how Doc Brown managed to get all that plutonium away from the Libyans in the first place? Robot Chicken answered this question in an episode guest-starring Lloyd.
2011: The Argentinian TV program CQC, which is like a hallucinatory version of The Today Show, hosts Christopher Lloyd in character. During the awkward interview, Doc Brown is assaulted by an animated boxing glove and struck by lightning.
2013: Doc Brown returns to Robot Chicken for this sketch, in which McFly makes fun of his choice of time machine car. In retrospect, the Batmobile seems like such an obvious choice.
2014: Lloyd does a thirty-second cameo as Doc Brown in Seth MacFarlane’s satirical Western A Million Ways to Die in the West, playing off his Old West jaunt in Back to the Future: Part III. Basically he just says “Great Scott!”, but it’s still a highlight of the critically maligned comedy.
May 2015: Doc Brown comes face-to-face with his own Lego mini figure in this commercial for the LEGO Dimensions game, which features Lloyd’s voice in a Back to the Future expansion pack. It just goes to show: All the best LEGO characters are named Emmet(t).
October 2015: The mad professor finally gets to the be the hero of a Back to the Future film in the new short Doc Brown Saves the World, made exclusively for the 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray and DVD box sets.
Back to the Future photo credit: Everett Collection