There’s plenty of things you could do if you could travel through time, go back and get rich betting on stocks or sports, go forward and see how your kids turn out, or just visit dinosaurs. Of course there’s one thing plenty of people might be tempted to do—mess with history.
Of course, if time travel is possible then that may have already happened (right?). History is full of remarkable coincidences, chance encounters, and unlikely outcomes that can make any reasonable person think they were the result of time travelers.
Redditor Heterozygoats asked: “What historical event 100% reads like a Time Traveler went back in time to alter history?”
And we’re not saying time travel is definitely going on, but we’re also not saying it’s not.
1. Edgar Allen Poe’s tale about shipwreck survivors
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. –TuckerMouse
2. Commando reunites with childhood sled
The commando raid on the NorskHydro 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. –Gentleman_Viking
3. Eerie coincidence
There was a shipwreck in 1664, a shipwreck in 1785, and a shipwreck in 1820. Each had 1 survivor. Each survivor was named Hugh Wiliams. –pm_me_gnus
4. Mysterious benefactor
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” –plopsaland
5. Cyanide gas attack thwarted
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. –Idkeepplaying
6. Fidel Castro’s luck
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. –Demiscio8
7. Andrew Jackson assassination attempt
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. –Two_Bears_HighFiving
8. 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.” –Zeppekki
9. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Somebody throws a grenade at his car, and it blows up behind him. That’s the first incident of time travel, stopping the assassination. Later, as he goes back, the driver realizes that he’s on the same route where the grenade was thrown, and they try to turn around. The whole procession of cars stalls, and a guy who just happened to be sitting there, goes over and shoots him. That’s a second time traveler, fixing what the first had done.
Since the whole thing lit off WWI and led to the rise of Hitler and then WWII, I kind of wonder what Ferdinand would have started if he hadn’t been killed. It must have been pretty bad for them to send a second time traveler to put Nazi Germany back into the timeline. –Wadsworth_McStumpy
Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. It was so much happenstance, shenanigans, and tomfoolery that it’s like a special achievement in a hitman game. –RigasTelRuun
10. Luckiest unlucky man
Tsutomu Yamaguchi survived both the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Reads like a satirical time-traveler story where the protagonist screws up his dates. -OlympusJMoosecock
11. Leonardo DaVinci
The mad man designed a tank in the 1500s. –Jakkzzyy
12. Eli Whitney
Not really “an event” but more of a couple of subtle, though significant, influences: Eli Whitney, the guy who invented the cotton gin, helped cement cotton as a major cash-crop which drove even further demand for slaves.
He, infamously, made no money off the development, as it was a simple and easily-copied machine, but cotton helped drive the economic growth of the South. Frustrated, he eventually abandoned efforts to profit off it and went into the industrial world, where he was a small contributor to the development of higher-precision machining and design (particularly for firearms). This in turn helped drive the growth of industry in the North, which was a major factor in giving the North the might and materiel to defeat the South.
Eli Whitney inadvertently helped start and end the Civil War decades before it happened. What time traveler was giving that guy advice and pulling strings around him, eh? –SPOOFE
13. Fyodor Dostoevsky
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. –smokeyman992
14. Magnetic mines foiled
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. –pezz4545
15. Digby Tatham-Warter
“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?'” –Wikipedia via seanbear
16. The divine wind
If the time traveler can control weather, the “divine wind” that stopped the Mongol invasion of Japan. –snoweel
17. Hitler’s luck
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 efficency.
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. –gelastes
18. McLean bookends the Civil War
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. –rgrtom
19. Dream about the periodic table
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. –willmac28
20. Titanic prediction
A book that predicted the sinking of the Titanic
21. One man 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. –Phosphoron
22. Battle of Midway
I’d say the Battle of Midway. The major turning point in the naval war in the Pacific. The battle destroyed the single most powerful naval strike force in history and shifted the balance of power to the US. The actual course of events during the Battle of Midway was a series of near misses for the US until, conveniently, two separate air strike forces arrived at the same time to decimate 3 out of 4 Japanese aircraft carriers. Absolutely amazing providence. –QuantumInteger