5 Random Coincidences That Invented Modern Pop Culture

#2. A (Barely) Passing Resemblance Led to Frasier's Brother

CBS Television Distribution

Any struggling actor can tell you that the most random shit can wind up landing you a role (fun fact: the character of Gunther on Friends existed purely because that guy was the only extra who could work a coffee machine). But then you get the truly baffling ones, like how David Hyde Pierce came to land his only famous role, that of Niles Crane on Frasier.

After Cheers spent 11 seasons showing us the funny side of chronic alcoholism, the show's producers decided to try their luck by taking one of its popular characters and giving him a spinoff. Then when that failed miserably they tried again with a series about the pompous psychiatrist Frasier Crane.

CBS Television Distribution
If you claim to remember this show, you are a goddamn liar.

For Frasier, they transplanted the good doctor to Seattle and gave him a supporting cast consisting of a cantankerous ex-cop father, a man-eating radio producer, and a quirky physical therapist who thought she had psychic powers, because if there's anyone you want taking care of your invalid dad, it's a possible crazy person. Notice anyone missing? Oh yeah, David Hyde Pierce's Niles, the even more neurotic fellow psychiatrist and kid brother who out-Frasiers Frasier.

That's because Niles was never meant to be part of the show -- in fact, in Cheers Frasier mentioned that he was an only child. But the casting director knew Pierce from the short-lived sitcom The Powers That Be and thought there was a striking resemblance between him and Kelsey Grammer. She showed photos of him to the producers, who agreed.

CBS Television Distribution
She also tried to get them to add a third brother played by Charles S. Dutton.

You might notice that these two men share no resemblance whatsoever. We don't know if it was just dark in the room, or if they were thinking of someone else ("Frasier is the mailman, right?"), but once Pierce was brought to their attention, the producers wrote the role of Niles for him. Keep in mind that his previous role was a neurotic, morose man whose patented running joke was that he kept trying to commit suicide:

By the way, Pierce was unimpressed with the Frasier script he was shown. He didn't see the point of writing in basically another Frasier in a show that, as the name implied, already had one. But a gig was a gig, and there are only so many chances in life to make millions due to some strangers mistakenly thinking you look like Kelsey Grammer.

#1. A Gloomy Night and Charles Dickens' Dyslexia Create Ebenezer Scrooge

Walt Disney

In 1841, Charles Dickens -- already a bestselling author -- was due to give a talk in Edinburgh and needed to kill some time beforehand. So he decided to walk through a graveyard, because the Victorians never got around to inventing non-creepy ways to have fun. While this may seem like the setup to his lesser-known work Attack of the Zombie Scotsmen, that night's stroll in fact led to the creation of everyone's favorite miser, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Walt Disney
Whom of course you know from Oliver Twist.

As Dickens walked through what we assume was a thick Scottish fog, he saw the gravestone for a guy named Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie. The grave identified him as a "meal man," a reference to the fact that he sold cornmeal. But due to a combination of the gloom and Dickens' own mild dyslexia, he mistook the words for "mean man." Which, damn, talk about a rough way to be remembered.

Dickens was struck by a memorial that he thought would have "shriveled" Scroggie's soul by having to take "such a terrible thing to eternity." Two years later, he released a novel about a man whose legacy of stinginess would haunt him from beyond the grave, and thanks to Dickens, it's now about as popular to name your kids Ebenezer as it is to call them Adolph.

We kind of wish Dickens had stuck with Scroggie, because that's a damn fun name to call someone. But ironically, the real Scroggie was a wild and promiscuous party animal who got in trouble with the Church of Scotland for both knocking up a servant out of wedlock (supposedly in a graveyard, because apparently that's just where Scottish people liked to hang out back then) and interrupting the General Assembly of the church by grabbing a countess' ass.

E. Chickering
"He yelled 'One!' then 'Countass ... get it?'"

Had Dickens known Scroggie's real-life story, it's possible A Christmas Carol would be a whiskey-fueled porno about a man who visits the Christmases of his various illegitimate children. As it is, one of the most famous literary characters in history came about because one of the greatest writers in history couldn't read a four-letter word.

Related Reading: Coincidences get coinci...denser. Morgan Robertson wrote about the sinking of the Titanic fourteen years before it happened. Also, the world is run by a vast left-handed conspiracy. We've got more: John Wilkes Booth's brother saved the life of Abraham Lincoln's son.

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