When done right a plot twist can leave you with an intense feeling of satisfaction. While surprising at first, it's fun to go back into a movie or book and try to piece together all the parts that added up to the sum of the twist itself. How did the director or author fool you? It's a game, really. However, history has a way of showing up and saying, "Hold my goblet." As they say, real life is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to twists at the end of conflict.
Reddit user, u/dazedan_confused, wanted to know when did history pull one over on the people involved when they asked:
What's the biggest plot twist in history?
Literal Example Of That Twin Spider-Man Meme
Probably the time during WW1 the Germans disguised one of their ships, SMS Cap Trafalgar, as the British liner HMS Carmania, and by sheer coincidence and bad luck the first ship they came across was the real HMS Carmania, which ended up sinking them.
And That's How It Came Down
A diplomat f-cked up because he was tired and caused the massing at the Berlin Wall the night it came down. Gunter Schabowski was an East German diplomat who had just come back from Poland that night and was tired and overwhelmed. But, he had to read an announcement about travel rules changing, at a live press conference. And since he had just got back, he hadn't been fully briefed. The new rule was that Easterners could apply for a visa to go west for short trips, and wait a few days from the announcement to apply and be approved. The announcement was in clunky language and started by saying stuff like "liberalization of travel rules...blah blah...can now visit the west...blah blah." Schabowski was reading this for the first time on the air, live. A journalist asked "so when does this, uh, start?" Wanting to look prepared, Schabowski said, "uh...immediately, now." One applies at the border stations.
This, of course, spread fast and caused people to mass at the Wall, asking to go. There had been important protests before, but nothing in these numbers.
Then, a border guard at the wall was preoccupied because he might have cancer and was waiting for his results. So, he didn't care enough about his job to stop people and opened the first gate.
All It Took Was A Little Death
Definitely the Miracle of the House of Brandenburg.
So here was the situation. We're deep into the 7 Years War. It's Great Britain and Prussia vs. France, Austria, and Russia (Plus minor allies on both sides.) As you might be able to figure out, this was rather the pickle for Prussia. There was, if I recall, only one or two British armies on the entire mainland and those were more concerned with defending Hanover (a dynastic possession) than helping their allies with actual troops rather than money. So Prussia, the smallest and weakest great power at the time, had to face off against Russia and Austria all by itself. Incredibly they manage to do so for 5 years. But the cost had become very high. They lost, according to Wikipedia "120 generals, 1,500 officers (out of 5,500) and over 100,000 men". In short, despite Frederick the Great's generalship, they were completely exhausted.
Cue the most bullshit event in history. The Russian Empress Elizabeth (a daughter of Peter the Great) died suddenly. And her heir was Peter III, her German born nephew from her sister Anna. And this guy was Frederick the Great's biggest fanboy ever. He decides to save his hero, making peace with him, offers to become his ally, and orders Russian troops to march against the Austrians. So by pure luck Prussia goes from potentially being destroyed to being completely saved.
Surprise! You'll Never See It Coming
After a grinding down of both Rome and Sassanid Persia in a titanic 30 year war, both sides depleted and exhausted, one wonders what will happen next. Will the war recommence in a few decades? Will one side collapse? Will the Christian victory cause conversion in Persia?
Nope an army of Bedouin will sweep out of the desert backwater to the south and annihilate the armies of both nations, [seize] half the roman empire and destroy Persia, irreparably changing the cultures of both
This Isn't What We Want, So Let's...Oh No!
Killing Julius Caesar because no one wanted an Emperor. Augustus (Octavius) becomes Emperor a couple of years later.
A bigger plot twist is that it was Octavian, rather than the more experienced and more respected Mark Antony, that became the ruler of Rome.
...We Just Went Over This In Rome!
The Republicans in power hated Theodore Roosevelt so they stuck him into the most powerless political position: Vice President. Then McKinley got himself assassinated and made Roosevelt the most powerful man in the country instantly and bringing in all kinds of reforms and change in the country domestically and internationally.
We Were All Reeeeally Close To Being Part Of His Army
Probably that Genghis Khan DIDN'T take over the world.
"Mr. President, Please Stop Beating Your Assassin."
An assassin tried to kill President Andrew Jackson. Not one but both of his pistols jammed. Not being happy with his attempted murder, President Jackson commences to beating the would-be assassin with his cane. This wasn't a light beating, he nearly killed the guy.
And then in comes Davey Crockett.
The King of the Wild Frontier, who killed him a bear when he was only three, has to pull the president off the guy.
A Can Of Worms That'll Never Close
The assassination of JFK's assassin.
Which has left the JFK assassination the biggest unsolved mystery, if Oswald lived, you could have wrote him off as a lone nut that killed the president, killing him effectively told you, there is more to this than we think
That's Just Bad Timing...
The head executioner during the French Revolution, Charles-Henri Sanson, was the first executioner to use the guillotine. He was spending a lot of his own money on upkeep, etc. He was verging on bankruptcy. So he petitioned the Paris Commune which was the Revolutionary Government, for financial aid and reimbursement.
They accepted his paperwork although they were going to pieces, all turning on one another. The leader Robespierre (who actually used to be opposed to the death penalty) wound up sending all his friends to the guillotine. This scared everyone so much, they wound up guillotining Robespierre.
When poor Sanson went to check on his reimbursement and financial aid, he was told, "Sorry, man. You really should have it, but you need an official signature. Only Robespierre could give that and you guillotined him yesterday."