There are many things in history that seem to make sense. Battles are won by the bigger, stronger army. People suffer when circumstances outwit them, and the weather has had more than its fair share of influence over the years, too.
There are other events, though, that seem to defy all logic. Armies win when they definitely shouldn’t and people survive against all odds….and what if those latter instances were because a time traveler intervened (on accident or on purpose)?
It’s fun to think about, and these people have some pretty reasonable suggestions when it comes to events that fit the bill.
1. I think the guns were just scared of Jackson, like everyone else.
When Andrew Jackson’s assassin attempted to shoot him, both of his flint lock pistols misfired. Andrew Jackson had to be restrained after almost beating the assassin to death with his cane.
The two flintlocks were examined after the incident and found to be in good condition.
Also participating in that beatdown was Davy Crockett, a congressman from Tennessee at the time, who happened to be standing there.
2. It all comes back to Poe.
Edgar Allen Poe writes about an event 40+ years in the future.
Basically, Poe writes about four people who are starving at sea, draw straws, and kill and eat the loser, cabin boy Richard Parker.
40 odd years later four people are adrift at sea in a lifeboat, one drinks seawater and goes into a coma. When they draw straws for who will be eaten, the coma guy gets the short straw in a development that surprises no one. And so the three other men kill and eat the cabin boy.
Richard Parker. Seriously.
3. A freak tornado.
During the war of 1812, seems like a time traveler with weather control capabilities started a freak tornado that effectively ended the British occupation of Washington.
“More British soldiers were killed by the tornado’s flying debris than by the guns of the American resistance.”
4. Either way, very good timing.
Cyanide Gas Attack Thwarted in Tokyo Subway
20,000 people could have died but a worker found a burning gas bag in a toilet just before it mixed with another poisonous another gas bag – just in time – and put them out. That was in Shinjuku station.
I was in that station that day, and that person might have saved my life.
5. Not once, but twice.
Survived both the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Reads like a satirical time-traveler story where the protagonist screws up his dates.
When he came back to Nagasaki and described the events to his boss, he wasn’t believed.
He returned to Nagasaki the following day and, despite his wounds, he returned to work on August 9, the day of the second atomic bombing. That morning, while he was being berated by his supervisor as “crazy” after describing how one bomb had destroyed the city, the Nagasaki bomb detonated
Must have felt good (in a way) when the 2nd blast happened.
6. A bonehead move.
The Germans spent a lot of time and money developing a magnetic sea mine that probably would have significantly reduced England’s ability to stay in the war, except they dropped a single one of the mines accidentally on an English beach, and also failed to arm it so none of the booby traps were active and the British basically found out straight away how it worked and we’re able to cheaply build magnetic mine sweepers.
Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. It was so much happenstance, shenanigans, and tomfoolery that it’s like a special achievement in a hitman game.
Bomb that fails to explode, Generals don’t want troops lining the streets to protect the Duke cause their uniforms weren’t clean. Assassin not sure what’s going on decides to go to a sandwich shop on the corner to get some food.
Everyone decides how to get the Arch Duke out of town but neglect to tell the driver where to go so, when he doesn’t turn, all the Generals start yelling at him and he pops the clutch throwing said Generals off running boards and the Assassin just walks up and pops them both dead.
Thank you for all the love. Wanted to add one more piece of info. My history teacher at university taught a history class covering between the American Civil War and WWI. For the Assassination, he had recreated the entire downtown area of Sarajevo on two large pieces of plywood. The Apple Quay running next to the Franz Josef Strasa, really detailed. We spent 6 weeks tracing the routes the Assassins took to get there, where they stayed etc.
The big drop was at the end when our teacher told us as part of his thesis on this, he went to Sarajevo in 1955 or so to finish his research and one of his visits was to the WWI museum in Sarajevo. While there he was speaking to one of the staff and found out that one of the conspirators as part of his life sentence, was obligated to be the museum director and ensure the museum stays din working order.
He was able to spend a couple weeks with him and was a trove of information not seen in history books. For the life of me, I can’t remember the assassins name.
8. He was a time traveler?
Leonardo de Vinci. He could have been trying to get attention of other time travelers saying hey I’m stuck back here.
I never thought about that but that’s exactly what I would do if I were a time-traveler stuck in the past.
9. In the blink of an eye.
Tesla’s AC Polyphase System. One minute, we’re in the stone age of electrical distribution, and the next, Buffalo, NY is being powered by the Alternating Current being generated at Niagara Falls by Tesla’s genius system.
10. Totally wild.
There was a shipwreck in 1664, a shipwreck in 1785, and a shipwreck in 1820.
Each had one survivor.
Each survivor was named Hugh Williams.”
11. Don’t worry.
Digby and A Company managed to travel 8 miles in 7 hours while also taking prisoner 150 German soldiers including members of the SS. During the battle, Digby wore his maroon beret instead of a helmet and waved his umbrella while walking about the defences despite heavy mortar fire. When the Germans started using tanks to cross the bridge, Digby led a bayonet charge against them wearing a bowler hat. He later disabled a German armoured car with his umbrella, incapacitating the driver by shoving the umbrella through the car’s observational slit and poking the driver in the eye.
Digby then noticed the chaplain pinned down by enemy fire while trying to cross the street to get to injured soldiers. Digby got to him and said “Don’t worry about the bullets, I’ve got an umbrella”. He then escorted the chaplain across the street under his umbrella. When he returned to the front line, one of his fellow officers said about his umbrella that “that thing won’t do you any good”, to which Digby replied “Oh my goodness Pat, but what if it rains?”
12. The sled he lost as a child.
The commando raid on the Norsk Hydro heavy water plant in Hardanger Norway during WWII, the Norwegian commandos parachuted in during one of the worst blizzards on record, along with hundreds of pounds of explosives, and had to trek through the Norwegian wilderness for 15 days before they found a hunting cabin.
The English commandos who were supposed to link up with got shot down, and the only reason they were able to make it to the cabin was that they found one of the commandos sled, which he had lost as a child. After that they had to hole up in the hunting cabin for months, waiting out the weather.
They survived on moss until. On Christmas morning, one of the men managed to shoot a deer.
They went on to destroy the heavy water plant as well as sink the ship carrying what heavy water had been produced, effectively ending any chance Nazi Germany had of developing atomic weapons.
The story is even crazier and less plausible than I’ve described, but I’m on mobile so I’ve left some things out.
13. He was way ahead of them.
A Belgian businessman was instrumental to the Manhattan Project’s success. Realizing uranium’s importance, he shipped 1,200 tons of it to Staten Island.
When Lieutenant Colonel Nichols contacted him, he simply responded: “You can have the ore now. It is in New York. I was waiting for your visit”
14. Thank goodness for that guy.
The number of times we DIDN’T go to nuclear war because of a false positive of a launch.
Honestly Stanislav Petrov should have statues in every country.
15. He just couldn’t be killed.
I would say there is significant evidence Fidel Castro.
Every single assassination attempt failed, sometimes because of wildly miscellaneous circumstances, including a sabotaged diving suit that somehow got “miraculously switched” with someone else, who ended up drowning in his place.
Dude holds the world record for over 600 attempts, I believe.
16. A mythological Druid.
I might have found a time traveller in Irish mythology
There’s a mythological Druid called Mug Ruith
He is claimed to have lived for over 1000 years, living during the rein of different kings (ok, nothing unusual for Irish mythology there).
But he flew in a machine called the ‘oared-wheel’ which sounds like a helicopter
He wore a hornless bullhide and a bird mask, which sounds like a flight helmet/cap and respirator pilots use
He drove a chariot that blinded those who saw it, deafened those who heard it, had sides of glass and was daylight inside and it killed whoever it struck… chap was driving a car with high beams, beeping the horn, had lights on the inside and was running people over!
17. Maybe Jesus.
As a high school kid reading way too much science fiction, it was easy to imagine that Jesus was a traveler from the future. Turning water into wine? That just requires some packets of 22nd century Kool-Aid (adult version). Advanced medical treatment brings Lazarus out of coma and cures the lepers. A matter replicator lets him feed the multitude with a few loaves and fishes.
Walking on water: that’s a standard feature of 22nd century footwear. “You will deny me 3 times before the cock crows.” Well of course Jesus knew that would happen, just like he knew he would be crucified: he read The Book! Why didn’t he deny his divinity before Pontius Pilate? He knew he couldn’t change history. He didn’t alter history, he fulfilled it.
You have to credit the guy for having the courage to go into the past, knowing what His ending would be. He obviously knew that His message was important to humanity.
18. Was that the plan all along?
The russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to death by firing squad and just as they were preparing the groups to be shot, a messenger came with a letter from the Tsar “forgiving” them and the sentence was changed to prison labor.
He later went on to write some of the most influential novels of all time.
19. That was far enough.
In 97 AD the chinese empire sent an official envoy to make contact with the Roman empire. They got as far as the parthian(persian) empire in the eastern mediterranean. Parthian sailors (the time travellers?) lied saying it would take 3 months to 2 years. The envoy gave up and returned back to china.
On average it would take 10 days of sailing to reach rome from the eastern mediterranean. Even shorter if they went to a closer roman province. They lied because trade between china and rome made middlemen like the parthian empire immensely rich, who also happened to be rome’s on and off again eastern rival.
Without that middleman trade income the parthians/persians wouldn’t have had enough resources to supply an army to fight off the Romans. The arabs wouldn’t have achieved what they did without persian military might. Islam would’ve just been seen as another esoteric eastern cult. Christianity would be more wide spread.
China would want to conquer south east asia in an attempt to control trade routes and Rome would want to expand towards the wealthy northern indian kingdoms. Rome gets split in two due civil war but instead of constantinople as the eastern roman empire its ctesiphon/baghdad as the capitol.
Then the mongols come and mess it all up.
20. Or he was the time traveler.
Fidel Castro’s assassination attempts being dodged is so unrealistic (really, he dodged about 600) that it feels like a time traveller went back and foiled every single one of them.
21. He saved the world.
Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet lieutenant known as “the man who saved the world.” Tensions were riding between the Soviet Union and the United States, so on the 26th of September in 1983, he was on duty for a nuclear early-warning system.
The system detected multiple missiles launched by the United States, but Petrov broke protocol, following his instincts by choosing not to report the danger to his higher-ups. The missiles turned out to be a false alarm, as he had thought, and, as Petrov’s title suggests, he very well may have saved the world that day.
Saving the world just off of a hunch definitely seems like something a time traveler might do… Sus.
22. Thank goodness for fast runners.
When the Athenians voted to execute a large group of war prisoners during the Peloponnesian wars, many of those prisoners women and children, an entire city, a man whom nobody knew or heard of took the stage. His name was Diodotus, literally “gift of god”.
He persuaded the Athenian people to reverse their decision, which they did.
Before the messenger reached the soldiers to order them to kill the prisoners, another messenger had reached them in time to inform the commander that the Athenians had changed their mind and let them live.
23. For the love of Canada.
Isaac Brock’s almost single handed defense of Upper Canada from the US invasion in the war of 1812.
“You have a garrison of a few hundred British soldiers, the ones not good enough for the Napoleonic war. Withdraw to Halifax and try to hold the maritimes.” F**k that. “Ok natives, we don’t like eachother very much but we’re agreed the americans a worse right? Let’s fight together. Hey farmers, you fled the revolution, they’re coming to get you, here’s some guns lets fight back.” Forms an army in a matter of weeks out of nothing.
“Very well Brock. You’re outnumbered 3:1 on any given front and 10:1 in total, and you have to conquer Fort Detroit which is entrenched otherwise your SW flank will be open to counter attack.” “Um…i’ll write them a letter about how the natives with me will kill them horribly if the fort falls.” and proceeds to march in a circle all night around the fort to build a sense of a larger force and let the fear settle in. Fort Detroit surrendered without a shot.
“Ok nice try Brock, but now Niagara is about to be invaded and you’re 500km away.” “S*%t, I better canoe up lake erie really f**king fast”. And he fucking does it.
“Too late Brock! They’ve crossed the river at the northern end and they have the high ground.” “F**k that, follow me boys” Charges up the hill AT THE HEAD OF THE COLUMN and rallies his untrained militia to force them off the ledge. He dies (to a goddamn cannonball blast straight to the chest), but the invasion is halted.
Canada doesn’t exist today if not for a balls-to-the-walls British general in 1812 who in the span of 3 months single handedly raises an army, defends 750km+ of warfront, and cements two victories over forces than outnumbered him 3:1 to 5:1.
24. That sounds like a good book.
If you read up on his life, you’ll find there are so many times Adolf Hitler almost died, but somehow survived, that makes me think there was/is a time traveler war going on.
A faction trying to kill Hitler, because it’s Hitler, and a faction preventing his death, because the guy who would replace him was even worse than Hitler.
25. The random dude trading stocks.
I’ve gone through quite a few comments but haven’t seen the random dude trading stocks.
That has to be the biggest “Time traveller” story though not necessarily altering history in a obvious way.
Will need to try find what the guy called himself. Basically random dude who no-one has ever heard of arrives in NYC and starts buying shares in a market slump. Makes money on every single trade. Share price is falling, he buys it, just after he buys it, it starts rising, he sells as it turns and drops.
But he’s doing that across the whole share market. Insider trading is suspected but he’s not making or taking phone calls and there’s no way he’s got an in on seemingly everything. Also no-one knows who he is, literally no-one has ever met this guy before.
Makes a crap load of money in very little time, gets arrested on suspicion of fraud because no-one is that lucky. Says something along the lines of, “I know I shouldn’t have done that but I got carried away with all the excitement.” Bail is set at IIRC $1m, which is immediately paid by another guy no-one has ever heard of.
They both leave and poof. No records of either of them existing prior to the trading or bailout. They’re just gone, search is conducted and it comes up with nothing.
26. Was he just lucky?
There have been at least 40 attempts to kill Hitler after he had risen to power. Sometimes they failed because the assailant couldn’t get close enough (at least that’s what they said afterwards) but a lot of them failed because of reasons that seem plausible if it happens once but begin to smell fishy when you look at all of them.
Elser’s bomb went off as planned but Hitler, who loved to hold speeches, had finished early that day.
Tresckow’s bomb failed because at first he, as a high-ranking officer of the Wehrmacht, couldn’t get his hands on anything that goes boom for months, and when he finally had some, the bomb didn’t explode. Talk about German efficiency.
Stauffenberg could have just shot the bastard – his attempt was part of a general upheaval after all, so his chances to survive that day would have been not that bad. But he planted a bomb because that went so well the last times.
And so on. We will never know why but somebody believed or even knew that a premature death of Hitler would have been even worse for the world than what we got.
Or it was a wehraboo who wanted to see a Tiger II. Who knows.
Edit: I’m a bit surprised by the number of people who are trying to explain to me that I’m wrong. Like, dudes, I’m open for the idea that time traveling might not be real.
27. Insane, right?
a book that predicted the sinking of the Titanic
Futility: The Wreck of the Titan.
28. He had a premonition.
The American Civil Wars first real battle was at Bull Run on land belonging to a Mr. McLean. After that he said “Screw this, Ima move to the country and avoid this war”.
He moved to Appomattox Courthouse, VA where Lee surrendered to Grant…in the McLean’s living room.
29. I’d read a book about that.
I remember this comment about a bumbling time traveller trying to kill Adolphe Sax (inventor of the Saxophone) because they hate their sax lessons and I can totally see it because of how many things that almost killed him.
30. It was all a dream.
Mendeleev, who created the periodic table, was struggling to order the elements in a specific order/pattern. He then was able to order them like we see today after having a ‘dream’ where all the elements fell into place, even leaving gaps for elements that hadn’t yet been discovered.
I know it’s not exactly a major historical event, but it’s been the foundation of science for over a century but when I first heard I thought it was a bit suspicious how it all fell into place.
See what I mean? I’m halfway convinced already, I swear.
Do you have another suggestion that would fit on this list? We’d love to hear about it down in the comments!