40 Things Turning 35 in 2020

George Michael, Bono, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Howard Jones, Bob Geldof and other musicians gather on stage for the finale of the Live Aid concert at London's Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985.
George Michael, Bono, Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Howard Jones, Bob Geldof and other musicians gather on stage for the finale of the Live Aid concert at London's Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985.
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

While 1984 was iconic, 1985 was an even bigger year for pop culture. When we think of a song or a movie that exemplifies "the '80s," it’s very likely from 1985. If you made a mix tape of '80s songs, it would have a ton of stuff from 1985 (“Summer of ’69,” anybody? “Voices Carry,” perhaps? “Everybody Wants To Rule The World"? Or how about Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More"?)

Without further ado, here are 40 things turning 35 in 2020. If you were born in 1985, you're in good company.

1. Back to the Future

The highest-grossing movie of 1985 featured Michael J. Fox as a teenager traveling 30 years back in time. It's 35 years later, but Back to the Future still holds up—though doing the math makes us feel extremely old (today's 1985 is more distant in the past as 1985's 1955).

2. New Coke

In the early 1980s, Pepsi ran a killer marketing blitz: The Pepsi Challenge. It was a simple blind taste-test of Pepsi versus Coke, and upstart Pepsi won more than half the time. (While opinions differ as to why Pepsi won so often, the simplest explanation may be that it tasted sweeter.) So Coke fired back by discontinuing its original formula and introducing "New Coke," a sweeter formulation. Everybody hated it, despite intense marketing.

New Coke was such a flop that "old Coke" was reintroduced three months later as "Coca-Cola Classic." Eventually "New Coke" turned into Coke II (yes, really), and remained on store shelves until 2002.

3. "We are the World"

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie co-wrote "We Are the World" and, along with Harry Belafonte and Ken Kragen, recruited a mega-supergroup dubbed USA for Africa to record it. The purpose of the song was to raise money for famine relief in Africa—particularly in Ethiopia, where a devastating famine was raging. The song was a massive hit, reaching quadruple platinum status, winning various Grammies, and raising tens of millions of dollars for the relief effort.

The supergroup performing the song included luminaries like Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Dan Aykroyd(!), Bette Midler, the Pointer Sisters, the Jacksons, Smokey Robinson, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Geldof, Huey Lewis, you name it.

4. Live Aid

There were also two major charity concerts in 1985: Live Aid, again focused on aid for the famine in Ethiopia, was held on July 13, 1985 with two concerts held simultaneously—one in London and one in Philadelphia. Queen's Live Aid performance (which you can see above) has become an iconic moment in music history.

5. Farm Aid

Inspired by Live Aid, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young organized a charity concert of their own, Farm Aid, to help American farmers. The concert took place on September 22, 1985 in Champaign, Illinois, and featured Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, B.B. King, and Tom Petty as just a few of the featured performers. The concert raised more than $9 million and the organization is still active today.

6. WrestleMania I

The first WrestleMania event was staged by the World Wrestling Federation on March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden. In the main event, wrestlers included Hulk Hogan and Mr. T versus "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" (Paul Orndorff). WrestleMania set the template for American wrestling events for decades to come, and it's still running today. (Incidentally, Liberace made an appearance as a timekeeper and Muhammad Ali was a referee.)

7. Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling

Playing into the WrestleMania madness, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling appeared as a Saturday morning cartoon on CBS. Above is a taste of its amazingness.

8. Pictionary

A 'Pictionary' game board is pictured
Jun Seita, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The party game Pictionary was designed by Robert Angel and released by Seattle Games in 1985. If you've been living under a rock for 35 years, the premise is simple: one player has to draw a picture, trying to get the other players to guess a common word, phrase, action, or person, place, or animal. It's a lot like charades, but with frenzied scribbling.

The game was later adapted into several TV game shows. (You can see the pilot for the 1989 TV version of Pictionary here.)

9. Discovery of the RMS Titanic Wreck

On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank; the wreck wouldn't be discovered until 1985, when Dr. Bob Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel led a massive expedition employing a high-tech remotely-operated deep-sea vehicle named Argo. The key tactic that enabled the 1985 expedition to succeed where previous efforts failed was the use of cameras rather than sonar; by watching images, scientists were able to see the debris field from the Titanic and eventually find the wreck (in several parts).

10. Starship's "We Built This City," a.k.a. the Worst Song of All Time

Released in August 1985, Starship's "We Built This City" was the kind of rock song that appealed to music lovers of the time, but almost immediately felt dated. And nearly 20 years later, it was still on people's minds as it was voted the worst record ever in a 2004 poll of critics. Lambasted by Blender editor Craig Marks for "the sheer dumbness of the lyrics," the song made news for being a real stinker. (A similar Rolling Stone readers poll reached the same conclusion in 2011.) For the record, it was nominated for a Grammy in 1986.

11. Guns N’ Roses

A bunch of bands that would later become big deals (or at least moderate deals) formed in 1985, including Guns N' Roses, which formed in Los Angeles when the existing bands Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns merged. After several major lineup changes (including the addition of Duff McKagan and Slash), the band was signed by Geffen Records in 1986 and released Appetite for Destruction in 1987. Today, the only remaining member from the original lineup is Axl Rose.

Among some of the other bands that formed in 1985? DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Indigo Girls, Jane’s Addiction, and Crowded House.

12. The Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo Entertainment System with controller
Editorial RF/iStock via Getty Images

Although the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had existed in Japan as the Famicom since mid-1983, it only became available in the U.S. in late 1985 (and even then, it was only in New York City, the first of several test markets).

13. Super Mario Bros.

The big innovations in the U.S. release of the NES were ROB (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Zapper light gun, and the release of Super Mario Bros., the game that made America fall in love with home video game consoles again.

14. and 15. Mask and M.A.S.K.

On March 8, 1985, Mask hit theaters. The movie was based on the true story of "Rocky" Dennis, a young man who suffered from craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, a rare bone disorder that results in excessive calcium buildup in the face. The film, which starred Cher, Sam Elliott, and Eric Stoltz, won an Oscar for Best Makeup.

On September 16, 1985, the cartoon M.A.S.K. hit TV screens, based on the overuse of backronyms. (The title stood for Mobile Armored Strike Kommand—the good guys—who were battling V.E.N.O.M., the Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem.) The cartoon was mostly notable for being a mashup of G.I. Joe and Transformers, leading to endless toy merchandising opportunities.*

16. Discovery of the ozone hole

In May 1985, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey announced that there was a large "hole" in the ozone layer over Antarctica. Technically, it was more of a major thinning, but the term ozone hole stuck. Scientists reported that this hole had opened every spring since the 1970s and suggested that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals used in refrigerants and propellants (hello, hairspray) were causing it. The hole was a problem because it let extra UV radiation through the atmosphere. Alarmed by this news, the world reacted, heavily regulating CFCs, which ultimately reduced the ozone hole. (Some experts believe it could completely disappear by the 2060s.)

17. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Brøderbund released the now-classic educational video game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in 1985. The game taught geography and basic research skills, while managing to actually be fun (see the play-through video above, while imagining you're a little kid in 1985). In the years following the initial 1985 release, the game was ported to tons of personal computer and game console platforms, including the NES, SNES, and various Sega consoles. It also continued the '80s trend of crazy backronyms, featuring the Villains' International League of Evil (V.I.L.E.).

If you're a fan, Wikipedia has an incredibly thorough list of the characters in the game (and subsequent adaptations, including later games and, of course, the TV game show). In 2019, Netflix released a new animated Carmen Sandiego series. And while it was reported back in 2011 that Jennifer Lopez was on board to create a live-action movie of the series, that project seems to have come to a hault.

18. Madonna's breakout year

After releasing the album Like a Virgin in 1984, Madonna proceeded to blow up in 1985. She starred in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan (and appeared in Vision Quest); released the hits "Crazy for You," "Into the Groove," and "Dress You Up" (among others); married Sean Penn; and started her first North American tour with the Beastie Boys as her opening act.

19. Blockbuster Video

A Blockbuster Video in Miami, Florida is pictured in November 2002
David Friedman, Getty Images

The first Blockbuster Video rental outlet opened in October 1985 in Dallas, Texas. The brand rapidly expanded, soon blanketing the U.S. and expanding its offerings to video games (including Nintendo cartridges) and eventually DVDs. At the height of its success, Blockbuster had over 9000 retail stores.

As home video offerings changed (hello, Netflix, cable, kiosks, and on-demand), Blockbuster declined. In 2010, it began the first of various bankruptcy filings. By January 2014, the last few hundred corporate-owned Blockbuster stores closed their doors. Today, just one store—known as The Last Blockbuster—is still open, in Bend, Oregon.

Other notable businesses founded in 1985: Boston Market, Tommy Hilfiger, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and Enron.

20. The first smoking ban in U.S. restaurants

Photo of a businessman in suit holding a no smoking sign against a blue background
metamorworks/iStock via Getty Images

Settle in, children, as we tell you what used to happen when you entered a restaurant: You'd be asked, "Smoking or non?" and you'd choose the section of the room in which you'd like to sit. In other words, half of pretty much all restaurants were filled with cigarette smoke. This was entirely normal and common until the first U.S. restaurant smoking ban went into effect in Aspen, Colorado in late 1985. Part of this progressive move can be attributed to then-Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's Campaign for a Smoke-Free America; similar smoking bans were enacted throughout the '80s and '90s, becoming commonplace today.

21. Calvin & Hobbes

On November 18, 1985, Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin & Hobbes debuted. It ran for 10 years, following the adventures of Calvin, an imaginative kid, and his stuffed tiger Hobbes. The comic strip was an instant hit, and spread rapidly to hundreds of newspapers.

Calvin & Hobbes is notable mainly for its brilliant writing, focusing on the imagination of a little boy and his semi-imaginary friend. But it's also remarkable for its lack of merchandising. Although many books of Calvin & Hobbes collected comics have been made and sold, almost no licensed merchandise was created. In 2013, the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson explored fan love for the strip (it's on Amazon Prime). We also managed to snag a very year interview with Watterson that year.

22. Microsoft Windows 1.0

One year after Apple introduced the Macintosh, Microsoft shipped Windows 1.0, a graphical user interface that ran various DOS applications in crappy windows, alongside a handful of actual Windows-native applications (like Microsoft Paint, bundled with Windows 1.0). On the bright side, it came with a game: Reversi.

23. The First dot com domain

On March 15, 1985, the first "dot com" domain name was registered. Symbolics.com was the new online home of Symbolics Inc., a computer company based in Massachusetts. By comparison, it took IBM more than a year to get around to registering IBM.com, but that was typical—having an Internet domain name in the mid-'80s was not exactly mission-critical. The .com top-level domain joined a handful of other TLDs including .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, .org, and .arpa. Of course, in the years since, .com has pretty much dominated the domain name world.

24. Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale

It was a good year for books in 1985: Carl Sagan's Contact was published, as was Don DeLillo's White Noise. Orson Scott Card released Ender's Game and Margaret Atwood gave us The Handmaid’s Tale. Other notables include Lonesome Dove, Blood Meridian, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, The Cider House Rules, Dogsong, and The Polar Express. Many of 1985's biggest books were later (sometimes much later) adapted into movies.

25. The Brat Pack

It's hard to pick a single movie that defined 1985 (and this list already devoted entries to Mask and Back to the Future, so you can tell we're not trying too hard to be exclusive). But among the '85 standouts is John Hughes's The Breakfast Club, which helped define the Brat Pack, a group of actors who appeared in tons of teen-centric films. The group included (at least) Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy. A subset of these actors appeared in both The Breakfast Club (which was released in February 1985) and St. Elmo's Fire (which came out in June).

26. The Goonies

John Matuszak stars as Sloth in The Goonies (1985)
Warner Home Video

Other notable movies from 1985: The Goonies, Brazil, The Black Cauldron, Clue, Fletch, The Color Purple, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Out of Africa, Weird Science, Witness, Ladyhawke, Return to Oz, and Cocoon. It was a pretty sweet year for Stallone sequels, too: The Italian Stallion starred in both with Rambo First Blood Part II and Rocky IV.

27. David Lee Roth mania

David Lee Roth left Van Halen on April Fool's Day in 1985, at the peak of the band's popularity (the previous year's album, 1984, had spawned the hits "Jump," "I'll Wait," "Panama," and "Hot for Teacher"). This moment marked Peak Roth, a cultural instant when David Lee Roth was as relevant and famous as he would ever be. He also released an EP of standards entitled Crazy from the Heat, including "California Girls" (complete with backing vocals by Beach Boy Carl Wilson) and a medley of "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody," both of which were hits. These days, David Lee Roth is back with Van Halen.

28. The First Commercial AIDS Blood Test

In early 1985, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the first commercial blood test to detect HIV antibodies in blood. Blood banks immediately began screening blood donations using the test, at a cost of about $6 per test. That year also marked a series of major moments in the early story of AIDS: Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart debuted Off-Broadway; Indiana teen Ryan White was barred from his middle school after contracting the disease from a blood transfusion; GLAAD was formed; and Rock Hudson died from AIDS-related illnesses, bringing a very mainstream face to the disease.

29. Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley attends ELLE's 25th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration presented by L'Oreal Paris, Hearts On Fire and CALVIN KLEIN at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for ELLE Magazine

Lots of actors, entertainers, and sports stars were born in 1985. Here's a list:

  • Keira Knightley
  • Lily Allen
  • Reggie Bush
  • Colbie Caillat
  • Lana Del Rey
  • Zac Hanson (of the band Hanson)
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Emily Kinney
  • Bruno Mars
  • Michael Phelps
  • Amanda Seyfried
  • Rooney Mara
  • Carey Mulligan
  • Jack Osbourne
  • Alison Pill
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Raven-Symoné

See? Isn't it weird that Keira Knightley, Bruno Mars, Raven-Symoné, and Jack Osbourne are the same age?

30. and 31. Thundercats and The Golden Girls

A still from 'The Golden Girls'
NBC

OK, so 1985 was a wellspring of awesome kids' TV, plus some grownup TV, too. Here's a grab bag of shows that debuted in 1985:

  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (The Reboot)
  • Amazing Stories
  • The Care Bears
  • Club MTV
  • EastEnders
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
  • The Golden Girls
  • Growing Pains
  • It's Punky Brewster (not to be confused with the live-action Punky Brewster)
  • Jem
  • Larry King Live
  • MacGyver
  • Moonlighting
  • Mr. Belvedere
  • National Geographic Explorer
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power
  • Small Wonder
  • Star Wars: Droids
  • Star Wars: Ewoks
  • The Twilight Zone (the reboot)
  • ThunderCats

We should also pour one (or two) out for The Dukes of Hazzard and The Jeffersons, both of which ended their runs in 1985.

32. VH1

VH1 premiered on New Year's Day 1985, offering a slightly smoother/grown-up alternative to MTV (its first video was Marvin Gaye's awesome 1983 performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which you can watch above).

33. Nick at Nite

Nick at Nite debuted in July 1985, showing reruns starting at 8 p.m., sharing the same station as Nickelodeon (the logic being that kids should be in bed by then, or at least not watching TV). Nick at Nite's plan was to create the first "oldies TV network" in the same vein as oldies radio.

34. Elmo

Kevin Clash attends "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" at the Paley Center For Media on October 17, 2011 in New York City
Andy Kropa/Getty Images

Though Elmo had been an occasional background player on Sesame Street since 1980, when he was known simply as "Short Red," it took puppeteer Kevin Clash—using a hilariously high-pitched voice—to turn the character into Elmo, the hyper-friendly red monster we know and love.

35. David Letterman's "Top 10 List"

David Letterman aired his first "Top 10 List," with the subject: "Top Ten Words That Almost Rhyme With Peas."

36. The Portlandia statue

In Portland, Oregon, the statue Portlandia was installed on October 6, 1985, after being floated up the Willamette River on a barge. Sculpted by Raymond Kaskey, Portlandia is a 34-plus-foot copper statue of a woman holding a trident. Although it was obviously famous to Portland residents at the time, it became nationally notable when the TV show Portlandia borrowed its name and likeness (after negotiations with Kaskey).

37. The WELL

The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link—another backronym) is one of the original online communities. Founded by Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant, it began as a BBS (Bulletin Board System) accessible via dial-up modem, and evolved over the years as online services did. The WELL set the template for how people could interact online.

38. Phil Collins's No Jacket Required

In 1985, Phil Collins released his most successful solo album, No Jacket Required, which included the hit songs "Sussudio," "One More Night," and "Don't Lose My Number." It became a Diamond record (more than 10 times Platinum) and won three Grammys, including Album of the Year. He performed tracks from the album at Live Aid that year.

39. The First Million-Selling CD

Compact discs became available in the early 1980s, but it took until 1985 for them to go mainstream. Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms sold a million copies on CD, outselling its vinyl release. This was likely due to it being an early DDD (all-digital) recording, intended for the relatively new CD format.

40. Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli was founded in June 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. It has created animated classic movies including Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Ponyo, and lots more.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

25 Facts About Back to the Future On Its 35th Anniversary

Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985).
Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

On July 3, 1985, Michael J. Fox created a time travel movie for a whole new generation when he hopped inside a tricked-out DeLorean and zoomed back in the time—with a little help from some stolen plutonium—to ensure his future existence. In celebration of the film’s 35th anniversary, here are a few things you might not have known about Marty, Doc, and Doc's pet chimpanzee.

1. The Back to the Future script was rejected more than 40 times.

Back to the Future may be considered a contemporary classic today, but the initial response to the script hardly predicted how big of a hit it would become. As screenwriter Bob Gale told CNN in 2010:

“The script was rejected over 40 times by every major studio and by some more than once. We'd go back when they changed management. It was always one of two things. It was ‘Well, this is time travel, and those movies don't make any money.’ We got that a lot. We also got, ‘There's a lot of sweetness to this. It's too nice, we want something raunchier like Porky's. Why don't you take it to Disney?"

2. Disney’s studio executives thought Back to the Future was too raunchy.

Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson in Back to the Future (1985)
Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future (1985).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Ironically, whereas other major studios saw Back to the Future as a sweet, family-friendly picture that would make a perfect fit for Disney, the Mouse House’s executives thought otherwise. After hearing “take it to Disney” enough times, Gale and director Robert Zemeckis decided to do just that. “This was before Michael Eisner went in and reinvented [Disney],” Gale told CNN. “This was the last vestiges of the old Disney family regime. We went in to meet with an executive and he says, ‘Are you guys nuts? Are you insane? We can't make a movie like this. You've got the kid and the mother in his car! It's incest—this is Disney. It's too dirty for us!"

3. One studio thought Back to the Future would work better if it was retitled Space Man From Pluto.

Worried that people would shun a film with the word future in its title, one of the executives Gale and Zemeckis met with suggested that they retitle the film Space Man From Pluto.

4. Steven Spielberg sent his own memo in response to the note about changing the future of Back to the Future.


Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

In a 2014 interview with ShortList, Bob Gale admitted that he and Robert Zemeckis were at a bit of a loss over what to do with the title change suggestion. “We took the memo to Steven [Spielberg], who told us ‘Don’t worry, I know how to handle him,’ before writing a letter back which said, ‘Hi Sid, thanks for your most humorous memo, we all got a big laugh out of it, keep ‘em coming.’ Steven knew he would too embarrassed to say that he wanted us to take the letter seriously. Luckily nobody questioned the title after that. Without Steven, it could have all been very different."

5. At no point in any of the Back to the Future movies did anyone predict the Florida Marlins would win the 1997 World Series.

Or the 2003 World Series—no matter what any social media posts you’ve seen to the contrary. Though the rumor has been around since 1997, but as Snopes reports:

“As intriguing as it might be to believe so, the film Back to the Future Part 2, the 1989 sequel to the 1985’s hit Back to the Future, made no prediction, correct or otherwise, about the results of the 1997 World Series. At the beginning of the film, time-travelling scientist Doc Brown takes Marty McFly forward in time to 21 October 2015 in an effort to alter the future and prevent Marty’s (as yet unborn) children from ending up in prison. While in the future year 2015, Marty watches a holographic sports news broadcast announcing that the Chicago Cubs have swept an unnamed Miami team (represented by a gator, not a marlin) to win the World Series. This broadcast inspires Marty to buy a sports almanac and take it back to the past with him so that he can make accurate bets on future sporting events, but the contents of the almanac are not revealed in the film.”

6. Marty McFly and Doc became friends when Marty snuck into his lab as a teen and ended up with a part-time job.

Have you ever wondered how Marty and Doc became friends in the first place? Well, we did—often enough that, in 2011, we posed that very question to Bob Gale, who shared the origin of Marty and Doc's friendship with Mental Floss:

"He snuck into Doc’s lab, and was fascinated by all the cool stuff that was there. When Doc found him there, he was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc."

7. Slate wasn’t totally convinced that it was Bob Gale who had, in fact, told us about Marty and Doc’s Back to the Future backstory.

When Slate wrote a story questioning whether Bob Gale was actually behind the explanation, the screenwriter very kindly helped prove the story did indeed come from him by sending us this:

8. In the early drafts of Back to the Future, the time machine was made out of an old refrigerator.

Well, sort of an old refrigerator. “Way back in that second draft, it was going to be a ‘time chamber,’ not unlike a refrigerator, and Doc Brown had to carry it on the back of his truck," Gale explained.

9. Doc Brown originally had a pet chimpanzee in Back to the Future.

Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal, was anti-chimpanzee: "I looked it up," he told Gale, "no movie with a chimpanzee ever made any money."

“We said, what about those Clint Eastwood movies, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can,?” Gale and Zemeckis countered. “He said, ‘No, that was an orangutan.’ So, we have a dog.”

10. Pizza Hut sold Back to the Future Part II promotional sunglasses, a.k.a. “solar shades,” for $1.99.

They were totally ‘80s and pretty sweet. Fortunately, if you missed out on the original 1989 promotion, you can still find a pair on eBay on occasion. Get yours today—just prepare to spend $40 or more.

11. Princess Diana attended the London premiere of Back to the Future Part II in 1985.

No word on what Di thought of the film.

12. Ronald Reagan quoted Back to the Future in his 1986 State of the Union.

It has long been stated that Ronald Reagan was offered the role of Hill Valley's mayor in Back to the Future III, but turned it down. What is known is that the Reagans hosted a screening of the movie at the White House, and both the POTUS and the First Lady were fans of the film. So much so that Reagan even quoted it in his 1986 State of the Union address, stating: "Where we're going, we don't need roads."

13. Tom Wilson, who played Biff, carried around a card that answered every Back to the Future fan’s most frequently asked questions.

After 35 years of being asked the same questions about Back to the Future again and again, it makes sense that Tom Wilson—who played bully Biff—might want to streamline the process. So who carried around a card that answered all of the questions he was asked most often.

14. Elijah Wood made his film debut in Back to the Future II.

Elijah Wood’s first big-screen appearance came in 1989, where he played the kid playing the arcade game Wild Gunman in the Cafe 80s.

15. John DeLorean wrote Bob Gale a letter thanking him for Back to the Future.

John DeLorean, the visionary behind the sports car-turned-time travel machine, sent Bob Gale a note of gratitude about featuring his vehicle in the film. It read: “Thank you for keeping my dream alive.”

22. The real Hill Valley High School counts one former president among its alumni.

Whittier High School, a public high school in Whittier, California, played the role of Hill Valley High School in Back to the Future. In real life, it was Richard Nixon's alma mater.

23. Richard Nixon makes an appearance in Back to the Future II.


Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Look closely at the headlines on the front page of the Hill Valley Telegraph, which reports that Doc Brown has been declared legally insane and committed to a psychiatric institution. Just to the right of that story, you’ll see another story—purportedly from 1985—that reads: “Nixon to Seek Fifth Term; Vows End to Vietnam War by 1985.”

24. The whole Hill Valley Telegraph is worth another look.

As Jonathan Chiat noted in an excellent round-up of the paper's front pages for New York Magazine, "It is unclear why the Telegraph’s editors would devote such extensive space to Biff Tannen gambling coverage."

25. Homer Simpson took a stab at portraying Back to the Future’s Doc Brown.

In the early 1990s, there was a Back to the Future cartoon which featured Dan Castellaneta as the voice of Doc Brown. Castellaneta is best known as the voice of Homer Simpson on The Simpsons.