Description: Word frequently used to insult Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in the motion picture Back to the Future (1985) and its sequels Back to the Future II (1989) and Back to the Future III (1990).
Marty Mc Fly is a teenager who befriends a scientist named Emmett 'Doc' Brown (Christopher Lloyd), the inventor of a time travel device in the form a Delorean automobile which Marty uses to travel to the past and the future.
Throughout all of his time travel adventures, Marty is seen as a good-hearted person, but he has one flaw; he despises being called a coward. When called a “chicken” Marty stops dead in his tracks, turns slowly and says, “Nobody calls me chicken!”
In BTTF III Marty McFly travels back to the year 1885 to rescue scientist inventor, Emmett “Doc” Brown who was accidentally sent back in time. While in the Old West, Marty meets a frontier outlaw named Buford Tannen who calls Marty a "chicken" and challenges him to a gunfight. Along the way, Buford Tannen also has the chance to call Marty “yellow,” “yellow-belly” and a “gutless, yellow turd.”
Preparing for the gunfight, Marty hangs an iron stove cover beneath his poncho and goes out to battle Burford in a High Noon scenario.
At first, Mary drops his gun into the dirt, saying, “I thought we could settle this like men,” Buford Tannen disagrees, and says, “You thought wrong, dude” and shoots Marty in cold blood.
As Buford nears his fallen victim, Marty opens his eyes, slams him with the iron stove cover that deflected Buford’s bullet and pelts Buford with punches until he falls face down into cart load of manure.
At the conclusion of BTTF III after Marty returns to the present day, he is called “chicken” for not wanting to drag race with some street punks, but Marty has learned his lesson and succumbs to common sense ("I’m not stupid enough to race that butt-head.") just in time to avoid a car crash—a crash that would have altered his future for the worse.
As Marty finally admits, "It’s all my fault, I never should have let Biff get to me” (Biff Tannen being the movie’s bully who constantly called Marty a "chicken" and goaded him into acting against his better nature).
In the addition to the term "chicken," the word "manure" is a running theme in all three BTTF movies. It seems somewhere along the line, Biff gets covered in manure, at which time, he says, "I hate manure."
In the first movie, Biff chases Marty McFly and crashes into a truck load of manure that spills all over his 1946 Ford convertible. A similar mishap is seen in BTTF II.
Note: Another movie using the “chicken” theme is the comedy motion picture The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) starring Don Knotts in the role of a nervous, cowardly would-be-reporter (Mr. Chicken of the movie title) whom is challenged to sleep the night in a supposedly haunted mansion.
In the motion picture Dark City (1950), Charlton Heston as bookmaker Danny Haley confronts Augie, a demented killer (Jack Webb) with his cowardly ways: “You’re yellow. I never saw you pick on anything who wasn’t old and sick.”