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We have previously pointed out that the kind of coincidences you'd dismiss as bad writing if you saw them in a movie happen all the time in real life. In fact, history is full of bizarre coincidences that get downright creepy ...

5
John Wilkes Booth's Brother and Abe Lincoln's Son

Edwin Booth, perhaps unfairly known today as the brother of assassin John Wilkes Booth, was once upon a time known as the greatest actor in American history. In fact, certain theater historians and steampunk enthusiasts would probably argue that he still is today. His reputation as an actor was described as "mythic," and a statue of him stands in Manhattan's Gramercy Park to this very day.

That's what having a brother who killed the freaking president gets you -- in his day, Edwin was as famous as George Clooney, as classy as Clive Owen, as lusted after as Johnny Depp and as awesome as Josh Brolin. Hell, he even looked suspiciously like Robert De Niro ...

... and we bet that most of you have never heard his name before today.

But there's something else ...

Where it Gets Weird:

Booth performed a heroic act, one that would have gotten him into the history books. It took place during the last months of the Civil War at a crowded train station in Jersey City.


That's right. Even back then Jersey was known as a death-trap.

According to the young man that John Wilkes (sorry) Edwin Booth saved:

The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform. ... There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.

Imagine if you, as a kid, fell off a ledge and were caught by Chuck Norris. Not the wacky Internet meme Chuck Norris, but the actor you've seen on TV a million times. That's what it was like for the kid.


Mike Huckabee knows that feeling well.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

Since Edwin Booth was the kind of guy who did good deeds even when there were no cameras present, he genuinely had no idea who he'd just saved. He simply accepted the lad's gratitude, probably signed him an autograph, and spent the rest of his afternoon on a train reading a terrible fan-script the kid "happened to have on him" about William Shakespeare fighting zombies.

A few days later, Booth received a letter of commendation from Adam Badeau, an officer to the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant. It turned out that this young man Edwin had saved was actually Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln.


And father of Sean Connery's beard.

Keep in mind, it's not like the Booth family and the Lincoln family were neighbors, always running into each other. They weren't. They didn't travel in the same political circles -- the Booths were famous theater actors; they toured the country. This incident happened on a random train platform in New Jersey. It could have been any stranger and any random kid.

That act of heroism would have gone down as the only, unlikely interaction between the Booth family and the Lincoln family, if Edwin's brother John hadn't gone off the deep end and assassinated the kid's father only a few months later, nearly killing the country.


Siblings are nothing but trouble.

4
Two Brothers, One Bike, One Cab

We're going to be honest with you: There is really no way to build up the following story. It's just one of those things that is mathematically possible in the vastness of universe, but when it happens, it's creepier than those twin little girls from The Shining.

Where it Gets Weird:

In July 1975, newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic went nuts over the death of 17-year-old Erskine Lawrence Ebbin, the poor kid having been knocked off his moped by a taxi in Hamilton, Bermuda.

You see, the previous year his brother was killed ... on the same street. Also by a taxi. Both kids were 17, and they were hit almost one year apart. Oh, and they happened to be driving the same moped.


Moped show-boating claims two more lives.

Well ... OK. Mopeds are inherently unsafe, right? And maybe they both drove recklessly. It could happen.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

Before we go any further, please know that Cracked had to check with several overseas libraries and even the Library of Congress to verify this report.


WE STOP AT NOTHING.

The following clipping appeared on page nine, column three of The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph on July 21, 1975:

That's right.

The two brothers were killed by the same taxi.

With the same driver.

Carrying the same passenger.

Almost exactly one year later.

The Final Destination movies exist, folks, and you are living in them right now.


It's worth noting that death can occasionally be bribed with coke.

Continue Reading Below

3
The Synchronicity of Dennis the Menace

On March 12, 1951, Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace comic strip first hit American newspapers. It's still running to this day, in more than 1,000 newspapers, because comic strips never, ever die.

Where it Gets Weird:

Just a few hours before Ketcham's Dennis the Menace hit the nation, on the opposite side of the Atlantic, issue No. 452 of the British comic The Beano hit newsstands even though it was dated 17 March, 1951. This particular comic was notable for featuring the first appearance of what went on to become cartoonist David Law's most famous creation: Dennis the Menace.


Fair to fair, this kid looks like he could kick Dennis's ass.

That creepy muskrat at his feet is supposed to be Dennis' dog.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

So, their comics strips had the same exact name, and for some bizarre reason were published on the same exact day. That means the guy in the UK just ripped off his American counterpart, right? Or vice versa?


Was this just belated revenge for Yorktown?

Nope. By all accounts, neither man knew, or had any way of knowing, that there was an equivalent comic being developed an ocean away. No lawsuits were filed. After all, if one of them had caught wind of the other ahead of time, he'd have changed the title--it's to neither creator's advantage to create confusion among readers (for all you know the other comic is the worst thing ever). It just appears to be a massive coincidence, or as Carl Jung would have called it, synchronicity.

Besides, aside from this freak occurrence, the two characters had nothing in common. Hank Ketcham's take on Dennis was based on his own son, and David Law's Dennis was more like a gritty reboot of Calvin.


Something tells us this kid actually does piss on stuff in his comics.

Hank Ketcham and David Law decided to amicably continue their separate works, and both characters ended up becoming immensely popular with their respective audiences.


Though they clearly bought their shirts from the same thrift shop.

However, it was Hank Ketcham's Dennis that got made into a movie in 1993 starring Walter Matthau, Marty's mom from Back to the Future, and that blond kid from Rushmore.


Also, a down-and-out Doc Brown had a cameo.

When the movie came out in Britain it was marketed as Dennis to avoid a trademark infringement with David Law's angrier, grittier, created-on-the-same-day-but-wholly-different-Dennis. Why they didn't just coincidentally make a film about the UK's Dennis at the same time is anyone's guess, but we're willing to bet that it was because such a film would not get a PG rating.


Seriously, this kid rocks.

2
The Dick Family

Michael Dick of the UK had not seen his long-lost daughter Liza for 10 years. Why were they estranged? Your guess is as good as ours. All we know is that Michael went nuts looking for her.

Where it Gets Weird:

After fruitlessly combing the deserts of Sudbury for her, Michael turned to the Suffolk Free Press for help. The newspaper to write a story on the Dick family's predicament and even decided to include a picture of the family to make Liza feel homesick.

So, the family gathered out in the street, and the newspaper photographer snapped their picture. Sure enough, running the picture of the family farm did the trick! Michael Dick and his family were reunited with Liza just a few hours after the paper hit the streets.


Thanks to the tireless work of brave newsies.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

After taking a good look at the newspaper photo, Liza realized something ...


"Hey, that's me!"

Liza, the long-lost girl whom the man in the above photo had not seen in 10 years, just happened to be walking past in the background when the photo was snapped.

She didn't know they were there, and she didn't know a photo was being taken. After a decade apart, at the moment her family posed for a photo for a newspaper story about how she was missing, she just happened to be standing within 100 feet of them.

She described the experience as "very strange" and said, "Perhaps it was fate." Yeah, call it what you want. We'll leave it at "weird as shit."


Wait -- why the hell is there an arrow sticking out of that one girl's throat?

Continue Reading Below

1
Japan's Divine Wind

Everyone loves a good case of "divine intervention" that can easily be explained away by basic meteorology.


Preferably on Channel Ocho.

For instance, Russia was invaded by Hitler and Napoleon, and they were stopped respectively by a snowstorm and a snowstorm. Wow, big surprise. They didn't finish their invasions during the 72 hours it's not snowing in Russia.

But then, you have the ones that make you wonder. For instance, the Brits burned Washington, D.C., in 1814, and out of nowhere came the first recorded tornado in D.C. history. It trashed the living shit out of the British army and conveniently put out all their fires on the federal buildings.


After ensuring a conveniently sweet remodeling for the White House.

But even that pales next to the most famous example of meteorological deus ex machina: a weather phenomenon that came to be known as the Kamikaze, long before that word symbolized suicidal fighter pilots.

Where it Gets Weird:

The first Mongol invasion of Japan took place in November 1274 and consisted of 23,000 men and 700 to 800 ships. They were at sea for two weeks, made fantastic time and even managed to establish a beachhead on Hakata Bay, Japan. When the Battle of Bun'ei broke out on Nov. 19, Japan was so weak it looked like they should have started scouting out other islands to move to.


This was before Tommy Lee Jones came to straighten them out.

And everything went swimmingly for the Mongols ... that is, until a typhoon came in and wrecked their fleet like a blast from Poseidon's own shotgun. The Mongols suffered horrendous losses and retreated after only one day of fighting, which is saying something when you consider that these are the same folks who conquered everything from Korea to Austria.

But no matter -- they weren't the type to give up. They simply came back with a second, larger invasion in 1281. This force consisted of 140,000 soldiers, 4,000 ships and a two-pronged invasion via China and Korea. It was pretty much the size of six or seven of the previous invasion force. It was the best the Mongol-ruled Yuan Dynasty could muster, and you can bet the Mongol leader, Kublai Khan, expected to conquer Japan this second time around.

By mid-August, the enormous Mongol fleet met the Japanese at the very same Hakata Bay where they had squared off seven years earlier. And, once again, this fleet was destroyed ... by a typhoon.

Where it Gets Even Weirder:

If you're now picturing Japan as a powerful typhoon magnet where you have to carefully slip in durring narrow windows between storms, stop. Storms almost never hit the Hakata Bay, and one of the invasions wasn't even in typhoon season (they tend to hit in the summer, and the first attack was in November).

So exactly how low were the odds of the Mongols getting trashed at Hakata Bay? According to Japanese sources, a typhoon like the one that hit the Mongols during the second invasion occurs "once a hundred years or once a few hundred years." Or, as was the case with Mongolians, every time they invaded Japan.


All their cunning was useless.

Two storms, in seven years, both right when the Mongols were attacking, and in the spot where their fleet was located.

The Mongols never tried to invade Japan again.

For more randomness that had far reaching impacts, check out 6 Random Coincidences That Created The Modern World and 7 Random Animals That Decided The Course of History.

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