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Villain Overview
What're you lookin' at, butt-head?.
~ Biff Tannen's most famous quote.
Now why don't you make like a tree... and get out of here.
~ Biff's way of saying "leave".
Hello! Hello! Anybody home?
~ When beating someone's head with his knuckles or, in 2015, the top of his cane.

Biff Buford Howard Tannen, simply known as Biff, is one of the main antagonists in the Back to the Future science -fiction/ comedy movie trilogy, mainly Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II. He was the great-grandson of Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen and future grandfather to Griff Tannen.

He was portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson.

Personality

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Original Timeline

You realize what would happen if I hand in my homework in your handwriting? I'll get kicked out of school. And you wouldn't want to happen, would you. (Biff grabs George's shirt) Wouldn't you?
~ Biff bullying George McFly, during their school- days.
Biff Tannen, in the original timeline, started bullying George McFly when they were kids and never stopped.
Do you realize what would happen if I hand in my reports in your handwriting? I'll get fired. And you wouldn't want to happen, would you. (Biff grabs George's tie) Wouldn't you?
~ Biff bullying George in the original 1985.

Over the next 30 years, Biff would continue to bully and intimidate George, as they both ended up working for the same company where Biff became George's supervisor (due to George doing all Biff's work for him to get promoted). Biff's crush on Lorraine never died either, although Lorraine had married George and presumably Biff had married as well.

Revised Timeline

However, things changed when the McFlys' youngest son Marty McFly accidentally traveled back through time to 1955 using his friend Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine, interfering with his parents' first meeting. Marty, using the anachronistic name "Calvin Klein," also manages to get on the wrong side of Biff by standing up to him, something which Biff was not used to.

Marty was also indirectly responsible for causing Biff to crash his car into a manure truck, and this led to Biff finding Marty and Lorraine on the night of the school dance (November 12, 1955). Biff's gang trapped Marty in the trunk of another car and Biff tried to get his way with Lorraine. George came along, as part of the plan he and Marty had made where George would find Marty "parking" with Lorraine, but soon realized that the pretend rescue was now a real one. For the first time, George stood up to Biff to stop him from raping Lorraine. He responded by attempting to break George's arm. Lorraine, trying to pull Biff away from George, was knocked to the ground. This enraged George, who subsequently knocked out Biff with one punch. Lorraine fell in love with George at that moment, and they walked into the dance holding hands, staring into each other's eyes.

This punch led to a much more confident George, and Biff no longer had a victim to pick on. He may have found someone else to bully, but some theories suggest that as the supposed weakest kid in school had successfully stood up to and punched Biff, nobody else would let him bully them anymore. Since Biff no longer had George to do his work for him, he now had to do things for himself. He started up his auto-detailing business, which he owned and ran himself, and by 1985 it seemed to be quite popular. The McFlys were among his most loyal customers, and Biff's subservient attitude was demonstrated by addressing George as "Mr. McFly". George seemed amused at Biff's efforts to get away with as little work as possible though he and Lorraine privately credited him with unwittingly helping them get together, and they appeared to have become friends, or were at least on amicable terms. Biff was nice to his customers and to their faces, but could still be mean.

2015

Biff 2015

2015 Biff

Oh, and kid? Say hi to your grandma for me.
~ Old Biff to 'Marty McFly Jr.'
In the future, Biff, age 78, in 2015, Marty, Doc and Marty's girlfriend Jennifer Parker traveled forward in time from 1985 to 2015 – unaware that their departure had been witnessed by Biff. Over the next 30 years, he remembered seeing the flying DeLorean taking off.

Biff, seemingly bitter and resentful at this point in his life, was still waxing cars by 2015, at the age of 78, and was pushed around by his grandson Griff. Despite being over the age of retirement, Biff did not appear to have retired – he may have just been doing his grandson a favor by waxing his car, or he may have hit on hard times and been forced to continue working.

Old Biff tells how Marty had his own life completely flushed down the tubes back in 1985. Biff still seemed to like bullying people, including Marty (who he thinks is Marty's future son Martin McFly Jr.), and the handle on his walking cane was in the shape of a closed fist – although he remained cautious and apprehensive around George McFly. Also Biff's crush on Lorraine still lingered.

Flying DeLorean. Haven't seen one of those in... thirty years.
~ Old Biff sees the DeLorean time machine and remember when he first saw it.
So, Doc Brown invented a time machine?
~ Old Biff discovers Doc's secret.
On October 21, 2015, Biff saw the DeLorean from 1985 in the street and realized that Doc Brown had invented a time machine. He picked up a sports almanac that Doc had thrown in the trash and stole the DeLorean whilst Doc and Marty were rescuing Jennifer from her future home. Biff headed back to November 12, 1955 with the sports almanac to give to his younger self.

However upon returning to 2015, Biff fades from existence.

1985A

So there I was, minding my own business, (Biff opens the safe behind his portrait) some crazy old codger with a cane shows up. (Biff takes a box out of the safe.) He says he's my distant relative. I didn't see any resemblance. (He places the box on the table.) So he says "How would you like to be rich?" So I say "Sure." (He opens the box with a key and takes the sports almanac from it. It is in a plastic bag.) So he lays this book on me. He says this book'll tell me the outcome of every sporting event 'til the end of the century. All I have to do is bet on the winner, and I'll never lose. (Marty reaches forward to grab the almanac, but Biff pulls it out of his reach.) So I say "What's the catch?" He says, "No catch, just keep it a secret." (Biff puts the book back in the box and locks it. Biff puts the box back in the safe and closes it.) After that he disappeared. I never saw him again.
~ 1985A Biff tells Marty how he got the Sports Almanac.
Biff fades from existence. However upon returning to 2015, Biff became the victim of a time paradox: his giving the almanac to his younger self had changed the timeline, resulting in his nonexistence. He slumped behind a car, fading into nothingness as the DeLorean flew away. The top part of Biff's cane remained in the DeLorean and Doc showed it to Marty as an indication that old Biff was there. As when Marty started to fade at the dance in the first movie, Biff did not fade out completely until the Delorean's distinctive sonic booms were heard. Presumably, had Marty and/or Doc found the evidence that Biff had been in the time machine, they could have corrected the time-line, but once they left 2015, Biff's fate was sealed.

Alternate History

Biff Superpowerful

Biff, all rich and powerful in the bad alternate 1985.

Biff, age 48. In the alternate 1985, young Biff used the sports almanac to bet on the results of sporting events, since he now knew the results. In 1958, age 21, Biff soon became very rich and powerful, spending his money on women and cars. He also started up his toxic waste company BiffCo, soon becoming one of the richest and most powerful men in America. Biff built a casino hotel in Hill Valley (at least 27 stories high), named "Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel", on the site of the former Hill Valley Courthouse, upon legalized gambling in 1979. He also helped Richard Nixon remain President of the United States until at least 1983 (while seeking a fifth consecutive term). Biff's effects on history affected the whole world – in this version of history, the Vietnam War was also still ongoing by May 1983. Though he was recognized as one of America's heroes, his enormous casino hotel, complete authority over the local law enforcement, and money driven power, descended Hill Valley into a breeding ground for crime, corruption, and gang warfare.

Biff and Lorraine's Marriage

(Lorraine: Damn it, Biff! I'm leaving!) (Lorraine walks up the stairs.) Biff: Hoho! So go ahead! But think about this, Lorraine! Who's going to pay for all your clothes, huh? And your jewellery and your liquor? Who's going to pay for your cosmetic surgery, Lorraine? (Lorraine: You were the one who wanted me to get these, these things. (She points to her enlarged breasts) If you want them back, you can have them!) (Lorraine turns towards the door.) Biff: Look Lorraine, you walk out that door, I'll not only cut off you, I'll cut off your kids! (Lorraine leans on the banister, horrified) (Lorraine: You wouldn't!) Biff: Oh, wouldn't I? First your daughter Linda, I'll cancel all her credit cards. She can settle her debts with the bank all by herself. (He walks up the stairs towards Lorraine.) Your idiot son, Dave? I'll get his parole revoked. And as for Marty, well, maybe you'd like all three of your kids behind bars just like your brother Joey. One big happy jailbird family. (Lorraine: (upset) Alright, Biff. You win. I'll stay.)
~ Alternate Biff and Lorraine.
Despite all this, Biff did not have the girl he wanted. In this version of history, he was married at least three times, presumably the first wife was the woman he would have married in the normal timeline and the mother of his child(ren). On March 15, 1973, Biff shot and murdered George McFly, though Lorraine was unaware he did this. Biff and Lorraine got married in 1973, possibly by offering financial support to the young widow and her 3 children, but the money and power had gone to his head and he treated her horribly, and among other things, forced her to get breast implants. This went on until 1996 when Lorraine finally shot Biff. There is another possibility; having created an alternate timeline by giving his younger self the almanac, the old Biff from 2015 no longer exists, now that 2015 will become part of the 1985 alternate timeline.

This version of reality was erased when Marty and Doc went back to 1955 and got the almanac from Biff before he could use it, causing Biff to crash into the very same manure truck a second time. The timeline went back to how it was at the end of the first film, where Biff was running his auto detailing business.

The improved 1985 Once Marty had returned to 1985 for the second time, Biff was back to working as an auto-detailer and he waxed Marty's Toyota truck for him once more.

Films

Back to the Future

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Back to the Future Part II

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Back to the Future Part III

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Back to the Future: The Ride

During an experiment in 1955 from the Institute of Future Technology, Biff stows himself into the vehicle and finds himself in the present. Doc's dog Einstein spots him wandering through the walls via the security camera system. Biff hassles a security guard with an "I'm a butthead!" sign. Doc worries that if Biff takes any valuables from the institute, it could wipe out the universe. Biff also finds himself viewing the guests who are to be part of Doc Brown's time traveling experiment. He tries to course the guests into helping him when security shows up. Biff dismisses them then sprays on the security camera. After briefly knocking out the power, Biff storms the garage and ties up the scientists who were in 1955. He then traps Doc in his office. Upon realizing Biff's presence, Doc tries to remind Biff he must get back to 1955 or there could be a major paradox. Biff then takes the DeLorean's keys and hijacks it.

The guests, using the 8-passenger DeLorean remote-controlled by Doc, chase Biff through 2015 Hill Valley, crashing into signs while dodging traffic. In the ice age, Biff tries to confuse the visitors by knocking snow and ice from the ear onto them. In the dinosaur age, Biff tries to feed the riders to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, only to be knocked into a river of lava by the T-Rex. Biff pleads for help, then the guests bump the DeLorean and they arrive back in the institute. Biff thanks the guests for saving him, only to be captured by security.

Quotes

Back to the Future

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Back to the Future Part II

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Back to the Future Part III

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Trivia

  • According to the screenwriter for Back to the Future Part II, the alternate timeline version of Biff Tannen was based on New York businessman/reality TV star and current 45th U.S. President Donald Trump.

Videos

Back to the Future