'Back to the Future's Most Tragic Character: Uncle Joey

Even sadder than Doc, who lives in a Burger King parking lot.
'Back to the Future's Most Tragic Character: Uncle Joey

Don’t let the Huey Lewis music fool you; the Back to the Future movies are secretly very bleak. Sure there’s the fact that Marty McFly’s sports betting scheme inadvertently kickstarted the Watchmen universe, extending the war in Vietnam and killing millions, but there’s another quietly tragic character haunting the franchise. We’re talking about Marty’s Uncle Joey. The first movie begins with Lorraine throwing her brother Joey a party to celebrate his release from prison. But then we find out that he didn’t make his parole, leaving the McFlys to eat the world’s most depressing cake by themselves

When Marty travels back to 1955 and interacts with Lorraine’s baby brother, he doesn’t even seem to remember meeting his Uncle “Jailbird” Joey, so presumably, he’s been behind bars for a long time. Even in Back to the Future Part II’s alternate timeline version of 1985, Biff mentions that Joey is in prison -- this guy can’t even catch a break in a reality where Hill Valley is a crime-ridden cesspool.

Most depressingly, in an early draft of the screenplay for Part II, as well as the novelization, that re-hydrated Pizza Hut dinner at Marty and Jennifer’s house in 2015 was yet another failed parole party for Joey. So even 30 years later, Joey is still stuck behind bars, which everyone is surprisingly cool with because he liked being in a crib when he was a toddler.

Universal Pictures

What crime did Joey even commit? Apparently, they answered this in the recent comic series, and it, too is a huge bummer. In 1972 he was set up by Biff to take the fall for burgling Doc’s mom -- and because Joey didn’t rat out Hill Valley’s sleaziest resident, he got an extra-long sentence

IDW Publishing


So next time you’re enjoying your favorite time travel comedy, just remember that Joey is rotting away in the clink offscreen. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Universal Pictures

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