Is back to the future appropriate for a 7 year-old

Back to the Future Part III – With Doc trapped in 1885, Marty and Doc from 1955 find and repair the DeLorean, enabling Marty to go back in time to the old West. Knowing that Doc is destined to be murdered by ‘Mad Dog’ Tannen (Biff’s great grandfather), Marty does all he can to save his friend and bring him back to the future. However, when Doc falls in love with a woman whose life he saves, he isn’t sure that he wants to return. 

Back to the Future Part III (1990) – Director: Robert Zemeckis

Is back to the future appropriate for a 7 year-old

Rating: PG

Running Length: 118 mins

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson

Genre: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure. Period, Western


‘Back to the Future’ is a trilogy of films that brings nostalgia to many adults who remember seeing them for the first time when they were released. Widely loved the world over, the time travelling antics of young Marty McFly and the much older Dr. Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown are often a litmus test for any time travel movie that has come after. The odd pairing of Marty and Doc works purely on the basis of the genuinely friendly chemistry between the two actors (Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd respectively) and a similar duo has yet to rival the duo on screen.

The ‘present day’ of the trilogy is 1985 (the year the first movie was released), however once the time travel begins, ‘Back to the Future’ is set in 1955, ‘Back to the Future Part II’ takes a leap forwards to 2015 (how wrong they were! Where’s the hoverboards we were promised?!) and ‘Back to the Future Part III’ goes way back to the Wild West in 1885.

Of course, Biff’s ancestor, ‘Mad Dog’ Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) remains the villain as he has been in all instalments. This time around he is equally aggressive, misogynistic, stupid and manure-hating as his descendants but with the western backdrop his violence is taken up a notch to mirror the violent time period. Doc’s love interest, Clara Clayton (Mary Steenburgen) is a pleasant addition but much like other ‘Back to the Future’ female characters, has little more to her than love interest and/or person to save which is a shame.

At its core, ‘Back to the Future Part III’ is a very similar film to its two predecessors but the new setting helps it feel fresh. It is a trilogy that has endured decades and is rightfully remembered with fondness by adults who can now share their beloved family movies with children of their own.


A man enters his house carrying dead rabbits that he has hunted and killed.

Marty wears a flamboyant cowboy outfit, a man in the old west mutters ‘Must have got that shirt off a dead Chinese’.

Marty enters a bar. Women in revealing outfits who are likely prostitutes are shown briefly looking down at him from upstairs. They are also shown later in the background entertaining men however nothing explicit is said or shown so children are unlikely to understand who they are.

Violent thug, Mad Dog, shoots at Marty’s feet. He and his men laugh about how it looks like he’s dancing.

Marty is lasso’d by Mad Dog and dragged roughly through the streets of the town. Mad Dog says ‘It’s about time for a hanging!’. He ties a noose around Marty’s neck and he is hoisted up, there is a brief shot of him struggling for breath but then the camera angle changes so that Marty is seen in the background and his legs kick. Mad Dog and his men laugh and jeer at Marty’s distress. He is, however, saved and dropped back down to the ground where he quickly recovers.

Biff boasts about someone he killed, saying ‘Took him two days to die, bled to death’.

Biff grabs Clara and forces her to dance, dragging her around the dance floor. He enjoys her humiliation and distress.

Marty is measured for a coffin.

Doc drinks a shot of whisky in one go and promptly falls to the floor.

Mad Dog gleefully taunts Doc who is about to face him in a duel and is unlikely to survive.

Marty finds himself stuck on some train tracks as a train is coming. He manages to escape in the nick of time. We mention this in case this exciting moment may be imitable for children.


The enduring second sequel to the world’s most famous time travel movie, ‘Back to the Future Part III’ takes the action to the old West for an aces high adventure film. We feel this movie is appropriate for kids aged 6 and over.

  • Violence: 3/5 (some shooting and threats. The hanging scene is quite strong but brief)
  • Emotional Distress: 1/5 (a ‘good’ character appears to have been shot and killed but all is not as it seems)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5
  • Sexual Content: 2/5
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (infrequent mild and moderate cursing)
  • Dialogue: 2/5 (violent threats)
  • Other Notes: Deals with themes of friendship, risking your life to save a loved one, time travel, loyalty, honour and trust.

Words by Laura Record

What age is appropriate for Back to the Future?

PGBack to the Future / MPAA ratingnull

Can a 7 year old watch it?

Great film, but not for kids under 13 I recommend this film to everyone who loves slightly disturbing films and TV shows like me but for anyone under the age of 13 you really should not watch it. It's very gory and contains adult language.

Is PG okay for 7 year olds?

General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children. A PG film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older. Unaccompanied children of any age may watch, but parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger, or more sensitive, children.

Is there anything inappropriate in Back to the Future?

'80s time-travel favorite; some violence, bullying, cursing.