Do you believe in coincidences? Or do you believe there’s some larger, possibly nefarious mechanism at work making weird things happen the way they do? Whether you believe in fate or in random occurrences, here are 25 of the strangest coincidences to have happened throughout recent history.
1. He wasn’t kidding.
On June 20, 1940, Soviet archaeologists uncovered the tomb of Tamerlane, a descendent of Genghis Khan. A warning inscription read “Whoever opens my tomb will unleash an invader more terrible than I.” They opened it anyway. Germany invaded the Soviet Union two days later.
2. Musical neighbors
If not for the 200-year difference, Jimi Hendrix and George Handel would have been neighbors. They lived at 23 and 25 Brook Street, respectively, in London.
3. We wonder what their insurance was like.
There were only two cars in the state of Ohio in 1895. They ran into each other. Then there were no cars.
4. Maybe there’s something in the water
Stalin, Hitler, and Franz Josef, who are collectively responsible for about 80 million deaths, all lived in Vienna at the same time.
5. Twins Separated at Birth Who Had Incredibly Similar Lives
Man, twins are weird! Separated at birth, a set of twins from Ohio each grew up knowing nothing of the other’s existence. They were both named James on their adoptions (which might be a weirder coincidence of their respective families), both grew up to be police officers and marry women named Linda. They each had a son, one named James Alan and one named James Allan. They also each had a dog named Toy. They both got divorced, but later each remarried women named Betty.
6. The Hoover Dam’s first and last victims
The first worker to die during the dam’s construction was J.G. Tierny on December 20, 1922. The last person to die there was J.G. Tierny’s son, who died on December 20, 1935.
7. History repeats itself
Hitler was born 129 years after Napoleon. He also came to power 129 years after Napoleon, invaded Russia 129 years after Napoleon, and was defeated 129 years after Napoleon.
8. The license plate that signaled more than anyone thought
The license plate number of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s car, in which he was assassinated, was A III118. The official end of WWI was Armistice Day, 11/11/18
9. Don’t bring her on a cruise.
Violet Jessup was like a walking bad omen. She was on the HMS Olympic when it struck the HMS Hawke, she was on the HMHS Britannic when it hit a mine, and of course she was on the RMS Titanic, too. Jessup was actually a stewardess and nurse, so being on ships was her job. She’d be later known as “Miss Unsinkable.” All three doomed ships were also “sister” ships.
10. We assume they tip either time.
In 1975, a man was killed when he was struck by a taxi in Bermuda. An unlucky passenger had to witness it. A year later, the same taxi driver was driving the same passenger when the taxi struck and killed the original victim’s brother.
11. A giant mess of disguised ships.
During WWI, the British army turned a passenger ship, the RMS Carmania, into a battleship disguised as another passenger ship, the German SMS Trafalgar. Confused yet? It gets better. The disguised ship sank a German ship off Brazil in 1914. That ship was the real Trafalgar, which the Germans had disguised to look like the British Carmania.
12. You guys really need to keep the baby away from the window
Someone on this street obviously had it in for this baby, because during the 1930s, a man named Joseph Figlock was surprised by a falling baby landing on his shoulders. The same day the next year, the same baby fell on him again at the same spot. Neither Figlock nor the baby were harmed, but we hope someone got this family a screen.
13. Mark Twain’s comet-framed life.
Halley’s Comet passes Earth about once every 76 years, making it actually not that unlikely that someone’s life could be measured by it. One such person is Mark Twain, who was born during its 1835 pass, and died the day of its appearance in 1910. He even predicted it in 1909.
14. An honest mistake
When designing the landscape scenes for video game Deus Ex, one of the artists left out a major landmak of the New York City Skyline: the Twin Towers. To cover the flub, the game made up something about a terrorist attack. This game was made in 2000.
15. The case for taking your own advice
South African astronomer Danie du Toit was giving a lecture at the age of 49 about how death could come at any time. On finishing, he popped a mint into his mouth with a little too much vigor, and choked to death.
16. The patient bullet
When his sister committed suicide after a failed relationship, one man vowed revenge against Henry Ziegland, the man who’d broken her heart. He shot at Ziegland but missed, and the bullet lodged in a nearby tree. Years later, Henry was clearing that very land and used dynamite to remove the tree. The bullet was dislodged with considerable force, struck Ziegland, and killed him.
17. The eternal neighbors
The first British soldier killed in WWII is buried only several meters from the last British soldier killed in WWII. This was not intentional.
18. The name that began and ended Rome
Rome was, in legend, founded by Romulus, who was said to have been raised by a wolf along with his brother, Remus. The last emperor of Rome was named Romulus Augustus.
19. The twin deaths
In 2002, a man in Finland was struck and killed while trying to cross Highway 8 on his bike. Two hours later, his twin brother attempted the same crossing, and was also struck and killed, so they were killed about one-and-a-half kilometers from one another, two hours apart.
20. More twin mortality
On May 22, 1975, twins John and Arthur Mowforth both suffered from heart attacks. Living 120 km apart, they were admitted to separate hospitals and were not aware of the other’s condition. They each died shortly after.
American writer Anne Parrish found a book of fairy tales, Jack Frost and Other Stories, and proceeded to tell her husband about how much she’d loved the book as a child. On opening it, she discovered this written on the inside cover: “Anne Parrish, 209 N Weber Street, Colorado.
21. Mr. Bryson checks in twice.
A Mr. George D. Bryson checked into the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, only to find that the previous occupant was also a Mr. George D. Bryson.
22. The three men who we hope became friends or at least formed a band
In the 1920s, legend has it that three Englishmen met on a train somewhere in Peru. The first one was called Bingham, the second Powell, and the third Bingham-Powell.
23. Not quite twins, but twin deaths
King Umberto I of Italy had a weird dining experience when he found that he and the owner of a restaurant at which he was eating were born on the same day in the same town and had both married a woman named Margherita. On July 29, 1900, the king learned that the restaurant owner had been shot and killed in the street. Later that day, the king was also assassinated.
24. The book that came true
Edgar Allen Poe’s only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, tells of an ill-fated Antarctic voyage. In one scene, four shipwrecked survivors, adrift on a raft, decide to eat the cabin boy, Richard Parker, to survive. In 1884, a ship called the Mignonette sank, leaving four survivors. They, too, decided to cannibalize the cabin boy to survive. The cabin boy’s name? Richard Parker.