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Did Doc Brown and The Doctor Ever Meet?

I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.
I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool.

The new series of Doctor Who is coming soon. Having become acquainted, nay obsessed, with the Time Lord over the last year by watching everything Netflix has to offer, reading comics and books, listening to audio plays and basically turning into a nerdtastic fanboy at every opportunity, I simply can't wait to join back up with Matt Smith, see the return of the Daleks and say goodbye to Amy and Rory.

That being said...with two weeks still to go until the premiere on September 1, I'm stuck just taking the long fourth-dimensional route and daydreaming about the coming adventures. This led me to muse, "Is it possible, or even likely, that the Doctor has ever had a run-in with America's own pre-eminent time traveler, Doctor Emmet Brown from the Back to the Future series?"

Actually, yes, it's very likely they have met.

We can safely rule out an encounter occurring during the events of the first Back to the Future film. Brown had just perfected his time-travel technology, and had not added the augments to the DeLorean that enable transcontinental flight. Brown and Marty never leave America during their first outing, and the Doctor (in his Sixth incarnation played by Colin Baker at the time) spends most of 1985 either off world, dealing with a Cyberman invasion in the London sewers or stopping the Sontarans in Venice with his Second incarnation.

Did Doc Brown and The Doctor Ever Meet?

Of brief note, the lack of flight augments to the DeLorean does not mean, of course, that it cannot somehow travel great distances. After all, every time machine is also a spaceship in some form due to the movement of objects through space and time simultaneously. If Marty had traveled back to the exact same objective point in space in 1955, he most likely would've ended up floating dead somewhere in the Earth's orbit. So obviously, temporal travel involves spatial travel as well, though how this is compensated in the DeLorean is as yet unknown.

It's equally unlikely that Brown and the Doctor would've met during the 1955 adventures either. The Doctor didn't begin his regular visitations to Earth until 1963, and traveled to the year Brown invented Earth-based time travel only once in his Fourth incarnation to see Professor Chronotis at St Cedd's College in Cambridge.

Nor has the Doctor spent any significant amount of time on Earth in 2015, when Brown brings Marty into the future to change the fate of Marty McFly Jr. This may change, obviously, as the contemporary Doctor moves closer to that year.

The most likely point of meeting is in the American Old West in 1885, and such a meeting actually answers some nagging questions about the Back to the Future series.

 

Pictured: A big freakin' question about the Back to the Future series
Pictured: A big freakin' question about the Back to the Future series

During 1885, the Sixth Doctor, the same incarnation that would probably have noticed some new form of time travel on Earth in 1985, was in Scotland meeting with legendary science fiction writer H.G. Wells. He ended up there as a result of interference from the TARDIS throwing off the trajectory of an inhuman punishment called the Timelash where dissidents are sent into the time vortex by the Borad, the despotic ruler of Karfel. Wells aids the Doctor and his companion Perri in overthrowing the Borad before being returned to his own time, obviously inspired by his travels to write many of the science fiction masterpieces he is famous for.

Brown is an unabashed fan of the works of Wells as well as those of Jules Verne. Though he professes more love for the latter, he was clearly influenced by his reading to begin work on the flux capacitor that would ultimately allow him to travel in time himself. Unfortunately, he is left with his wife Clara in 1885 when Marty is returned through time at the front of a speeding train.

Now, the DeLorean still exists in 1885 even after Marty is gone because Brown has it hidden, to be picked up later by Marty and his younger incarnation in 1955. The time circuits are blown and unable to be repaired, but the end of Back to the Future III clearly shows Brown somehow being able to cobble another time machine out of a train without sacrificing the parts from the DeLorean itself; otherwise Marty never would've been able to use it to rescue Doc from Mad Dog Tannen in the Old West.

Did Doc Brown and The Doctor Ever Meet?

Yes, I also realize that if Marty saved Brown, then he was never killed by Tannen and thus Marty never saw the tombstone that made him travel back in time to save Brown. The answer is simple; wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.

Considering that Brown, an unparalleled genius, was unable to synthesize enough gasoline to get the DeLorean able to run long enough to transport Marty in 1885 back to 1985, it's hard to imagine him having the ability to create plutonium, flight technology or any of the other features that appear on his train ship at the end of the film.

Enter the Doctor, who would've been returning to 1885 to drop off Wells. Knowing the TARDIS, it's not at all unlikely that the Doctor would've been pulled to America due to the severe disturbances in the space/time continuum resulting from Brown and Marty's interference. He easily would've been able to assist Brown, someone he might have seen as a kindred spirit, with the technology needed to complete his second time machine.

In fact, it's damned near the only logical explanation for the fact that Brown was able to continue time traveling at all, and with the appearance by one of his literary heroes and inspirations in tow with a fellow time traveler, who was active in both the year Brown invented his first time machine and his second, it's simply too good of a coincidence.

So yes, I'm going on record now. Doctor Emmett Brown met the Sixth Doctor in 1885 after the former returned Marty to 1985 and the latter returned to drop off H.G. Wells, thus resulting in Brown being able to continue his adventures in time with the use of advanced technology borrowed from the Time Lord. And now that you think about it, doesn't Brown's cheating death thanks to a letter from Marty and a bulletproof vest almost exactly mirror the way the Eleventh Doctor escaped the Impossible Astronaut at the end of last season? Clearly, the two are still trading notes somewhere.


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