Long-running Back to the Future Day goes from hoax to legit

Oct. 21, 2015 is officially Back to the Future Day — though we wouldn't blame anyone online for doubting that this is true.

One of the internet's most annoying hoaxes, Back to the Future Day, is finally happening — For real this time.

Forget what you've seen on Twitter in the past. Oct. 21, 2015 is Back to the Future Day. For real. (YouTube/Back To The Future)

If 1989's Back to the Future II were based on true events, Doc Brown would be landing his DeLorean time machine amongst hoverboards and flying cars in Southern California at 4:29 p.m. PT today — Oct. 21, 2015.

To mark the occasion, Universal Pictures made a video with Christopher Lloyd, who played Emmett Brown in the movie series, to promote the Blu Ray release of the trilogy. 

Lloyd and Michael J. Fox, who played Marty McFly, reunited to talk about the movie's wild predictions for a Toyota commerial. 

Even the White House has a full slate of Back to the Future day events planned. 

And York Regional Police in Ontario and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary had some fun with their traffic reports this morning. 

We wouldn't blame you for doubting the claim that today is Future Day, however, given that this claim has already been made at least 691 times online over the past two years.

Back to the Future Day hoaxes have actually been making headlines around the world since as far back as 2010. 

The Telegraph (along with The Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald, among others) reported in July of that year that thousands on Twitter had fallen victim to a widespread hoax perpetrated by a British website called Total Film. In an article in Buzzfeed, Daniel Dalton explains how he started the hoax when he was working at Total Film. 

Will Marty McFly and Doc Brown finally arrive in the DeLorean today? Definitely not, as Back to the Future II is a work of fiction. Still, for the first time ever, fans are celebrating the duo's fictional 1980's journey on the right date — no hoax involved. (Back to the Future/Facebook)
"Many were fooled this week when a Photoshopped image began circulating on the internet, claiming July 5, 2010 was "Future Day," the date Marty McFly and Doctor Emmett Brown visit in their time-travelling DeLorean in the 1980s blockbuster," wrote SMH. 

"The rumour spread like wildfire across the globe yesterday and generated a flurry of activity on social networking websites, with Back to the Future becoming a trending topic on Twitter and one of the most searched-for phrases on Google," the piece continued. "But Great Scott! The date was wrong."

Indeed, Total Film admitted on July 6, 2010, that it had digitally altered an image of the DeLorean's time display from Back to the Future II and then tweeted it out "for a bit of fun."

The film site also bragged in that post about how it had duped celebrities like Joe Jonas, Elizabeth Banks and Colin Hanks into retweeting the hoax image.

In June of 2012, the rumours that Back to the Future Day was upon us surfaced once again thanks to yet another altered image of the DeLorean's time display.

The image in question was originally posted to the Facebook page of a mobile checkout app called Simply Tap on June 27, 2012.

That same date just so happened to appear in the Photoshopped still.

"If you're like us, you fell for that Photoshopped image that claimed today was the 'future date' Doc set the DeLorean to in the film Back to the Future," wrote Mashable that same day. "Not only was the picture shared thousands of times and became a viral hit in just a few hours, it wasn't the first time the same hoax happened."

Simply Tap's social media manager at the time told Mashable that he had altered and shared the image to promote a Back to the Future trilogy Blu-ray box set for one of his clients. 

"We promoted the image fully confident in the knowledge that everyone was familiar with the original hoax from a couple of years ago," he said after the image had already been shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook. "We figured that no one would fall for the same joke twice, so the caption was deliberately replicated it word for word so people would get the reference."

They didn't — and some still don't. Each and every time a new Photoshopped version of the DeLorean time display circulates online, many continue to get duped.

For every BTTF hoax, however, there are fans of the film surfacing to remind the world that Doc actually set the date on his time travelling car to Oct. 21, 2015.

If you don't believe us, watch the film. It's reportedly being screened all over the world this week because today is, in actual fact Back to the Future Day.

Fans can finally celebrate the fictional arrival of Marty McFly.

More importantly, the hoax and various parody websites it's inspired can, at long last, die.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?