Wild Coincidences Throughout Time
We’ve all had moments where we pause to think “What are the odds?” Coincidences happen large and small and whether you believe it to be wild happenstance or part of a broader pattern, there is no denying there are things stranger than fiction.
We’ve compiled a collection of coincidences that we find to be odd, interesting, and worth knowing about.
The "Jim Twins" Separated at Birth with Identical Lives
A pair of twins from Ohio were separated at birth and adopted into separate lives. However, the outcome of their lives had some striking similarities that are made all odder because some of the parallels are just pure chance and remarkably unpredictable.
Both men were named James by the families who adopted them and both men grew up to become police officers. Both men married women named Linda and each had a son, one named James Allan and the other’s named James Alan. Each man had a dog named Toy. Both brothers went through a divorce and remarried to women named Betty.
Edgar Allen Poe and His Cannibalistic Prophecy
Edgar Allen Poe was the author of a book called The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. In the book (spoilers ahead) the author describes how four sailors survive the sinking of their ship and survive by eating their cabin boy, Richard Parker.
Poe claimed that this was based on a true story, but that was false. 46 years later, however, a boat really did sink, and the members of the crew who were rescued revealed that to survive they had to eat their cabin boy to survive. His name? Richard Parker.
John Wilkes Booth’s Brother Saved Abe Lincoln’s Son
Long before John Wilkes Booth assassinated the 16th president of the United States, his brother Edwin saved Lincoln’s son from death. Robert Todd Lincoln was leaning against a stopped train in New Jersey when it started to move.
The younger Lincoln began to fall onto the tracks but was grabbed by the collar by Edwin Booth, saving him. Robert recognized his hero (Edwin was a well-known actor at the time) and wrote about the incident.
A Couple Discovers That Their Parents Were Lovers
Stephen and Helen Lee were flipping through old family photos at their New York engagement party when they discovered Stephen’s late father and Helen’s mother had nearly gotten married in Korea in the 1960s.
The elder lovers had decided against it due to parental disapproval and they parted ways. Now, the big loves of Stephen’s father’s life share grandchildren together.
James Dean and the Cursed Car
A friend of James Dean, Alec Guinness, saw Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder and found it “sinister,” so much so that he told Dean that if he got into the car who would dead it “this time next week.” Seven days later, Dean was in a fatal accident in the car.
The Porsche’s recoverable parts were re-sold and were a part of several other accidents with their new owners, including two other independent mortalities and several injuries.
Man Missed Two Plane Tragedies
In 2014 there were two tragic plane crashes that involved Malaysian Air flights. The first flight was shot down over Ukraine by three Russians and one Ukrainian, killing all aboard the plane. The second plane disappeared somewhere over the Indian Ocean and has never been recovered.
Both incidents involved the same airline in the same year and had one passenger who missed both flights. Maarten de Jonge was scheduled to take both flights but bumped his tickets at the last moment for cheaper ticket options.
Author Found Her Own Childhood Book
Novelist Anne Parish was walking along the Seine in 1929 when she stopped at a book stall to browse the book selection. She discovered an old favorite Jack Frost and Other Stories and decided to buy it for one franc.
She met her husband at the café and handed him the book. To his shock and amazement, he saw that his wife’s name and address had been written inside. The copy had been hers when she was a child.
The Simpsons Predicted Donald Trump’s Presidency
The episode, entitled Bart to the Future sees the character Bart seeing into his future. He sees that his sister Lisa becomes the first straight female president and Trump is her predecessor. At the time, Trump was a real estate developer and author of Art of the Deal.
Dan Greaney, a writer on the show explained that the joke was to set the stage for a dystopian future and called it the “logical stop before hitting rock bottom.”
Triplets Separated for an Experiment Found Each Other
Three young men, Robby, David, and Eddie were separated at birth by a New York psychologist in 1960 as part of a “nature versus nurture” study. In 1980, two of the young men attended the same university by chance and were later contacted by the third brother after their coincidental meeting was publicized.
The story was documented in a 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers and details how the men’s lives were irrevocably changed. As for the study, it was never published.
A Man Saved a Drowning Father and Son 30 Years Apart
An incredible story on its own, 80-year-old Xu Weifang of China saved an eight-year-old boy from drowning despite his recent injuries and advanced age. This was not the first time that Weifang had saved a drowning child, which is very bizarre as most of us will not save a boy from drowning.
However, the story became more intriguing and frankly unbelievable when Weifang discovered that he had saved the boy’s father some 30 years prior! He was a large part of the reason the son existed in the first place.
Two Dennis the Menace Characters Emerged the Same Year
Most are familiar with the cartoon character Dennis the Menace, the mischievous young boy and his dog, Ruff. The cartoon was launched in March of 1951, and uncannily enough, another cartoon of the same name launched in the same month and year across the Atlantic.
A U.K. cartoonist had made a British Dennis with more malice than the American version, but both young boys named Dennis the Menace who create mayhem in their wake. There is no sign of plagiarism, the characters were made independently and concurrently.
One Woman Survived Multiple Shipwrecks
A woman named Violet Jessop was a nurse and ocean liner stewardess who was dubbed “Miss Unsinkable” after surviving not one, not two, but three life threatening incidents aboard a ship.
In 1912, Violet managed to survive the tragedy that fell upon the Titanic, after crashing into an iceberg and inevitably sinking. In 1916, the HMHS Britannic suffered the same fate and sunk, all while Jessop was aboard. Amazingly, Jessop boarded another ship, the RMS Olympic, which was hit by a war ship. The ship did not sink, but still…
Father and Son Were the First and Last Casualty of the Hoover Dam
An estimated 21,000 people contributed to the building of the Hoover Dam, according to the United States Bureau of Reclamation. Of that number, 96 deaths occurred on the job site. Among the first recorded was J.G. Tierney who drowned in 1922 while conducting a geological survey with a colleague.
14 years later, on the exact anniversary of his death, his son Patrick Tierney who was working on the Hoover Dam fell from an electrical wire to his death.
Laura Buxton’s Balloon
In 2001, a 10-year-old girl named Laura Buxton released a red balloon from her front yard. On the side of the balloon, she had written “Please return to Laura Buxton” alongside her address. A strong wind took it away.
The balloon traveled roughly 140 miles south before it finally descended and landed in a yard of another 10-year-old named, you guessed it, Laura Buxton. The girls got into contact and decided to meet and uncovered an uncanny number of coincidences between them. Both arrived at the meeting with their pet guinea pigs.
Four in a Million
This lottery “coincidence” may ring a little false as four-time winner of Joan Ginther has a Stanford Ph.D. graduate studied statistics and may have found a way to stack the odds in her favor.
However, even with the help of a strategy, the chances of successfully pulling off a four-time win are still remarkably low. Ginther scored multiple million-dollar scratch-off tickets each of the four times, winning a grand total of more than $20 million.
Mark Twain’s Birthday and Death Day Coincide with Haley’s Comet
Mark Twain, the famous American author and humorist was born in 1835, the same year that Halley’s Comet made its first appearance. The comet made a second appearance in 1910, the same year of Twain’s.
The author famously predicted that the two events would align as he was quoted as saying, “The Almighty has said, no doubt, ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”
Stephen Hawking Shares Both Birth and Death Dates with Galileo and Einstein
Theoretical physicist, author, and cosmologist Stephen Hawking was born on the 300th anniversary of Italian astronomer, Galileo.
Hawking passed away in March of 2018 on what would have been Einstein’s 139th birthday. Hawking’s lifespan was already a statistical improbability as he lived to 76 with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Most who suffer from the disease live for about five years past diagnosis.
A Meteor Hit the Commette Family Home
Considering that the odds of you being killed by a meteor are 1 in 1,600,00, the odds of a four-and-a-half billion-year-old free flying meteor would slam into the Commette family’s home is cosmically surreal.
The egg-sized meteor hit the family home in France, smashing through the roof while the family was away on holiday. Martine Commette noticed the roof was leaking and made the discovery.
Anthony Hopkins Found a Signed Copy of a Book He Needed in a Train Station
While preparing for a role in the film adaptation of The Girl from Petrovka, American actor Anthony Hopkins set out to read the book, yet could not find a copy in any store. Then, while sitting in a London Tube station, he noticed a copy of said book that someone had left behind. When he opened it, he discovered that the book had been signed by the author, George Feifer.
Allegedly, when meeting Feifer at a party years later, he discovered Feifer did not have a copy of the book, as he had given a signed version to his friend, he then lost it at a train station.
A Father Found His Long-Lost Daughter in the Background of His Photo
Michael Dick had not seen his estranged daughter in over 10 years when he began to search for her again. Lisa had moved to Suffolk, England so Michael reached out toa local newspaper there and asked for them to publish a current phot of his and his other two daughters.
Not only did Lisa see the picture, but also realized that she and her mother were standing in the distant background of the father who was searching for her.
A Warning Inscription on the Tomb of Tamerlane
In June of 1940, Soviet archaeologists uncovered the tomb of Tamerlane in modern day Uzbekistan. Tamerlane viewed himself as Genghis Khan’s heir and was a Turco-Mongol conqueror, as well as the founder of the Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia.
On his tomb a warning inscription read “Whomsoever opens my tomb will unleash an invader more terrible than I.” The tomb was opened and three days later, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the biggest military invasion of all time upon the Soviet Union.
The First and Last Killed in WW1 are Buried Next to Each Other
By the end of the first World War, an estimated one million British lives had been taken. Yet miraculously, without any intention or planning, the first and last recorded casualties have graves that face one another only 15 feet apart from each other.
17-year-old John Parr and 30-year-old George Edwin Ellison are buried in the Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery.
A Woman’s Husband Found a Dollar She Wrote on Searching for a Husband
Paul and Esther Grachan had been seeing each other for a short time when Paul asked Esther to be his girlfriend. That day, while purchasing a sandwich, Paul noticed a dollar bill with the name “Esther” on it. He kept the bill and decided to frame it and give it to her as a gift. Esther was “speechless” and asked him to ask her about it later.
Year later, they got engaged to be married Esther revealed that she had written her name on a few dollar bills and told herself she would marry the man who brought it back to her. She only revealed it this to him later as to not scare him off but knew in that moment he was “the one.”
Tsutomo Yamaguchi Survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings
Tsutomo Yamaguchi was present for both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in Japan on August 6, 1945. Yamaguchi fled to Hiroshima in search of safety in Nagasaki only to witness yet another flash of white light that would cover half of his body in burns from the radioactive ash.
Yamaguchi is the only person documented by the Japanese government as having survived both bombings. Yamaguchi succumbed to cancer in 2010.
A Lost Indigenous Language Has the Same Word for “Dog”
The dying Aboriginal language of Mbabaram in Australia shares the same expression as the English word “dog.” The tribal word has no connection of derivation from the latter, stunning linguists.
This coincidence is often cited to warn of false cognates between words, which seem to be related to each other due to similar pronunciation and meaning but are not related at all.
A Couple Found Wedding Vows in a Bottle Written on the Same Day They Wed
Fred and Lynette Dubendorf were walking on the beach picking up trash when they noticed a small bottle washed on the shore with a piece of paper inside. They uncovered the vows of another couple, Melody Kloska and Matt Behrs, who had recently wed.
The note had the couple’s address and wedding date, which the Dubendorf’s were amazing to see was the same as their own beach wedding date, The couple wrote to the letter writers to congratulate them.
A Woman’s Teacher Lived in Her Mother's Childhood Home
Amanda Birch was speaking with her writing professor at the University of Rhode Island when the professor mentioned that she lived in a small Vermont town. Birch excitedly shared that her mother had been raised in said town.
When Birch told her professor her mother’s maiden name the professor realized that she now lived in the same house that Birch’s mother grew up in.
Flight 666 Flew into HEL on Friday the 13th
Finnair flight 666 departed from Copenhagen and landed in Helsinki (HEL) on Friday the 13th. There are a lot of conspiracies and mythology surrounding the numbers 666 as well as Friday the 13th, so this flight going to “HEL” was one for the books.
Thankfully, the coincidences ended there, and the flight landed safely at the final destination, with all aboard getting off safely.
Two Sets of Identical Twins Swapped Brothers
Two sets of identical twins had been split up at birth and raised as fraternal twins in Bogota, Columbia. A colleague of Jorge, one of the twins, had a chance encounter with William, Jorge’s biological twin. Shocked by the likeness between the two, the colleague showed Jorge a photo of the William via a Facebook page.
There were many photos with someone who looked identical to Jorge’s own brother, Carlos. The two sets of twins eventually met and remain in touch today.
A Couple Found Themselves in the Same Childhood Photograph
Aimee Maiden and Nick Wheeler were looking through family photos for their upcoming wedding and discovered that they had unknowingly taken their first photograph together as children, over a decade before they met.
The two grew up 300 miles apart in opposing sides of England, but Nick’s family had been on a vacation in Aimee’s hometown where the two families had gone to the beach.
An Author Inadvertently Predicted the Sinking of the Titanic
Robert Morgan wrote The Wreck of the Titan, Or Futility in 1898, 14 years before the Titanic would inevitably sink to the ocean floor.
The fictional novella described a boat with a very similar name which was described as “unsinkable.” Both the Titan and Titanic ran into icebergs on the starboard side of the ship, were 400 miles off Newfoundland when they sank, both on April nights, and both ships’ passengers suffered due to a lifeboat shortage.
Twin Women Died on the Same Day
Identical twins Helen Mae Cook, and Clara Mae Mitchell did everything together since they were born, and were incredibly close. Those close to the duo were not shocked that when Clara died of a heart attack at the age of 83, Helen died within just a few hours.
Helen had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease for over six years and could have succumbed at any time, yet she exited earth the same way she came in, with her sister.
Roberto Clemente Hits 3,000 on Last Day
Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates made baseball history when he became the first Latin American player and 11th in the entire league to reach 3,000 hits in 1972.
The milestone is made even more dramatic by the fact that it was his last hit ever on the Major League Field. Sadly, the Hall of Famer legend was killed shortly after in a plane crash off the coast of Puerto Rico while en route to Nicaragua on a humanitarian trip.
Texas Ranger’s Savior Walked in Mid-Story
Royce Burton, a professor at a New Jersey University, was telling his class a story that took place in 1940, back when Burton was a Texas Ranger in the Rio Grande. He had become disoriented while climbing out of a canyon and lost his balance as he reached the top.
Another Ranger, Joe, was able to grab him at just the right moment by his rifle strap. The two lost touch after they both were enlisted in World War Two. Just as he was recounting the story, Joe walked into the classroom. He had tracked him down and walked in right on time.
Franz Ferdinand’s Car Predicted the End of World War One
World War One was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914. The car he was traveling and subsequently assassinated in had a license plate with the numbering A lll 118.
World War One officially ended on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1918, otherwise written as 11/11/18.
Lightning Strikes Follow a Man to the Grave
Walter Summerford was struck by lightning three separate times throughout his life and then again four years after his death when a bolt of lightning struck his grave. Considering the odds of being struck by lightning each year is around 1 in 500,000, this is quite odd and miraculous.
Some (perhaps embellished) claims surrounding Summerford suggest that the lightning strikes, including the posthumous strike, happened every six years.
Presidents Who Died on the Fourth of July
Three of the first five U.S presidents died on July fourth, known as American Independence Day. Two of those deaths occurred on the same July fourth within hours of each other. The once friends turned political adversaries John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on July 4th, 1826, on the 50th anniversary on the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The nation’s fifth president, James Monroe, died exactly five years later the 55th anniversary of the birth of the Declaration of Independence. The birthday of the country is the most lethal day for its presidents!
Abraham Lincoln and JFK Share Some Strange Coincidences
Two American presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy were both killed from gunshot wounds to the back of the head on a Friday, right before a holiday celebration (Lincoln was killed right before Easter, JFK on the eve of Thanksgiving).
Both presidents were accompanied by their wife at the time of their death and had four children. Furthermore, both had secretaries named after the other. Lastly, both of their successors were vice presidents named Johnson.
Shakespeare’s 46 Coincidences
Okay try to follow me with this coincidence. “Here was I like a psalm” is an anagram for “William Shakespeare.” The 46th word in Psalm 46 in the King James Bible is “shake” and the 46th word from the end is “spear.”
The King James Bible was first completed in 1611 when William Shakespeare was, you guessed it, 46.