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Back To The Future Stars Give Unfortunate Update On Fourth Movie

It looks like we won't be going back to Back to the Future any time soon. 

Claudia Wells, who played Marty McFly's girlfriend Jennifer in the first Back to the Future before being Shue'd out the door, and James Tolkan, who portrayed high school principal Mister Strickland, were interviewed in a virtual panel for Wizard World Virtual Experiences 2020 in late September. When the inevitable moment came and the pair were asked about the chances of a new franchise entry, they had their answers locked in like Einstein the dog in the front seat of the DeLorean on a hot summer day.

"There's always talk of, 'Some day [Zemeckis is] going to do a part 4.' No. We've done it, it's done," said Tolkan. "One, two, and three, please. We're quite happy with that."

Wells added, "[Back to the Future screenwriter] Bob Gale has always been very adamant about, 'There is no Back to the Future 4. [...] I was doing a Q&A once with Christopher Lloyd at this theater where they had shown Back to the Future. One of the guys in the audience did [viral YouTube video] Brokeback to the Future, and Chris looked at him, he goes, 'That's Back to the Future 4, because it's not going to happen otherwise.' Everyone says no."

There's no going back to Back to the Future for the people involved

Tolkan and Wells are just two more voices in a seemingly endless chorus of folks involved with the original trilogy, screaming into an unfillable void of fan expectations that no, there are no plans for another Back to the Future movie.

Bob Gale, who co-wrote Back to the Future and both of its sequels, put the decision into firmly worded focus earlier in 2020. Speaking to BBC, he stated, "We already made a lot of money. You know, you don't sell your kids into prostitution. It was the wrong thing to do. We put 'The End' at the end of part three."

Gale continued with the verve and focus of a man who's been asked the same question over and over again for 30 years, "Plus, Michael J. Fox isn't in the shape to do a movie, and nobody wants to see Marty McFly having Parkinson's disease, and nobody wants to see another actor playing Marty McFly if it's supposed to be a continuation. We've already seen the Star Wars movies and Luke Skywalker is an old man. That can be a little bit painful, right?"

Robert Zemeckis, meanwhile, has been nothing if not clear about the odds of another Back to the Future sequel — stating at different points that it would be an act of hubris to try to add to the story, and that a remake would be "outrageous." 

"It's like saying, 'Let's remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?' What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?" he said to the Telegraph in 2015. In case his point wasn't made clear, he told Bad Taste in 2018 that "there will never ever be, in the most absolute way, a Back to the Future 4. There will be no more Back to the Future."

As icing on the cake, Tom Wilson, who played Biff in all three of the original movies, went so far as to write a song about how Back to the Future Part IV is never going to happen. It's really difficult to get more clear than that.

Even Christopher Lloyd knows Back to the Future 4 won't happen

In the past, actor Christopher Lloyd, the Doc Brown to Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly, was rather hopeful for the possibility of a fourth Back to the Future film to come to fruition. He stated during Niagara Falls Comic Con, held in June 2019, that he'd definitely sign on for Back to the Future 4 should it ever get greenlit (via ComicBook.com). In discussing the hypothetical project, Lloyd made it clear that in order for it to work, the story would have to be told extremely carefully. 

"I think somehow it needs to kind of convey a message about something that's important to everyone, universally, like climate change. Some way of incorporating whatever fever is going on at the moment into the film and keep the feeling of 1, 2, and 3," he said, also noting that it would be "tricky" to do Back to the Future 4 without the guarantee that it would be enjoyable. 

"You don't want to do another one and disappoint. So I don't know. I'd be happy to [do it], for myself. But we'll see," said Lloyd.

A few months later, though, Lloyd changed his tune. At German Comic Con Dortmund in December 2019, the actor admitted that he's had "a fantasy that they make another Back to the Future, Back to the Future 4," but knows now that "it's not happening" (via ComicBook.com). 

Where can Back to the Future fans go from here?

So, we have Back to the Future parts one through three, but what if that isn't enough? What if 343 minutes of time traveling antics just doesn't hit the spot? Luckily, fans of the series in need of a fresh hit can always turn to that old reliable source of nostalgia feels: the extended universe.

At the basic end of the spectrum, there's that noblest of '90s cash-grabs, the Saturday morning cartoon. From September of 1991 to December of the following year, a Back to the Future animated series ran for 26 glorious episodes on the CBS network. Characterized by Gale as non-canonical, "what-if" universe adventures, it explored Marty and Doc's family-friendly escapades through the timeline, featuring trips to the Salem Witch Trials, Dickensian London, the spacefaring society of 2091, and so on. Fun fact: It's the first national TV series to feature acclaimed science guy Bill Nye, starring in educational live-action segments at the end of each episode.

Additionally, for the discerning collector, Gale co-wrote an official sequel series to the movies, published in comic book form by IDW beginning in 2015. Initially published as Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines, the series was pretty much exactly what it says on the box — a collection of sequel stories taking place after the events of the movies, as well as possible scenarios from parallel realities. And if video games are more your speed, since-defunct studio Telltale Games released an episodic adventure in 2010, which even featured the voices of Christopher Lloyd and, in a couple of cameos, Michael J. Fox. In short, there's still plenty of future to go back to.