Creepy coincidences guaranteed to give you chills

When movies and TV shows rely on coincidence to drive the story forward, it can be an unforgivable sin. Nothing reminds you you're watching a work of fiction quite like a set of seemingly impossible coincidences align so precisely that the entire thing feels like a setup from a bad writer. Real life doesn't work like that, does it?

Sometimes, it totally does.

America's Civil War started and ended with Wilmer McLean

Saying you were there for the first shot and the last shot of a war that ripped a country apart sounds like the kind of one-upmanship that only happens after the drinks have been flowing for a while, but in the case of Wilmer McLean, it's a totally legit claim.

In July 1861, McLean turned use of his Virginia home over to General PGT Beauregard, who was gearing up for the First Battle of Bull Run when a cannon ball crashed through his kitchen. In his diary, the general wrote, "A comical effect of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House." We're tempted to suggest that McLean was less inclined to see the humor, but there you go.

Let's fast-forward a bit and follow McLean as he moved his family farther from the front lines and to a cottage in Appomattox County, where he was certain he was well away from the fighting. Yet not only was he right in the middle of the final skirmishes of a dying war, but when it came time for officials to choose a place for the end of the Civil War to be made official, they chose McLean's parlor. That was all well and good, but they didn't just sign documents, the men looted the house for souvenirs afterward. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Violet Jessop survived three White Star tragedies at sea

In the early 20th century, luxury liners were the bee's knees. The White Star Line was one of the premiere ship-builders, and three of their biggest and best were the Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic. You know most of the story, but strangely, one woman was onboard every single one of them.

Her name was Violet Jessup, and she was an Irish nurse from Argentina. It started in 1911, when she was onboard the Olympic when it collided with the HMS Hawke. The Olympic didn't sink, but Jessop's friends convinced her that an even more incredible time was to be had working on Titanic … so she that's where she headed next, and she was one of the survivors pulled from the freezing Atlantic by the Carpathia.

Not to be deterred by something clearly trying to send her a message, she went back to sea to serve on White Star's Britannic, which was drafted into service as a hospital ship during World War I. That ship hit a mine, and Jessop found her way into the lifeboats yet again. This time, though, that lifeboat was dragged back toward the sinking ship and its propellers. Seeing other ill-fated lifeboats—and their passengers—chopped to bits by the propellers, she jumped, hitting her head hard enough that she would have headaches for the rest of her life.

You're guessing she swore off ships forever, right? You'd be wrong. She worked as a ship's stewardess until 1950.

An Edgar Allan Poe story happens, 46 years after it's published

If you were to name which author's work you'd most want to come to life, you probably wouldn't go for Edgar Allan Poe.

His one and only full-length novel is The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and here's the gist of the story: Pym is stowing away on a whaling ship, but things go sideways, and the crew mutinies. Almost everyone dies, a storm hits, and the remaining crew are left adrift. They catch, kill, and eat a turtle, but it's not enough. They draw straws to see who's going to get eaten, and the unfortunate man who draws the short straw is a mutineer named Richard Parker. He's killed, eaten, and ultimately, the remaining crew are rescued.

That was published in 1838, and in 1884, a ship called the Mignonette left England for Australia. There was no mutiny, but the yacht was hit by storms off the coast of Africa. The four men were left adrift in a dinghy with no food or water, but they did manage to catch, kill, and eat a turtle. Sounding familiar? Starving, they decided one of their number needed to die so the rest might live, and they settled on the youngest among them, mostly because he was sick from drinking sea water anyway, and he had no family to return to. He died, was eaten, and the others were rescued four days later, still munching on what remained of his body. His name? Richard Parker.

A set of identical twins are killed in separate accidents on the same road

Twins share a bond that's pretty mysterious to the rest of us, for better or worse. In 2002, two 70-year-old twin brothers died two hours apart, and that's not the really eerie part.

The first brother was riding his bike on a roadway north of Helsinki, when he was hit by a truck and killed. Before the family was even informed of his death, the second brother also died. He was riding his bike when he was hit by a truck and killed. The accidents happened on the same road, less than a mile apart, and the BBC quoted one of the Finnish police officers involved in the cases as saying, "This is simply a historic coincidence. Although the road is a busy one, accidents don't occur every day … It made my hair stand on end when I heard the two were brothers, and identical twins at that. It came to mind that perhaps someone from upstairs had a say in this."

The license plate of the car that started World War I

In case you slept through this day in history class, a quick recap: One of the major events that kicked off the start of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. It's one of those events that's become so mythic that a ton of rumors have grown up around it, like the idea that in 1913 he killed a white stag and was targeted by a legendary curse that said his own life was forfeit. We're not sure about that, but given that he kept records of his hunting kills and had ended the lives of 272,439 animals, Mother Nature might have wanted to have a little sit-down with him.

One of the strange coincidences that's absolutely true, though, is about his car. It was a Graf and Stift double phaeton, and while it wasn't the cursed car of death it was rumored to be, it did bear an odd message. The car ended up in the impossible-to-pronounce Heeregeschichtliches Museum of Vienna, where it sat for almost two decades before a British tourist pointed out the odd significance of the license plate. The plate—that hasn't been replaced and can be seen in photographs of the assassination—reads A 111 118 … as in "Armistice, November 11, (19)18," the famous date of the agreement that ended World War I.

The accidental reveal of D-Day codenames

Leonard Dawe was just an ordinary guy with an ordinary job. He was the headmaster of the Strand School in Surrey, and he had one of the most seemingly harmless hobbies ever: he liked crosswords, so much that he'd been writing them for The Telegraph since they started running them in 1925. In June 1944, though, he was at work when a very official-looking car pulled up, and he was escorted out of the building by agents from MI5. He returned a few days later, refusing to say a word about what happened.

It wasn't until 1958 that he was allowed to tell his side of the story. You'll recognize the time that MI5 came knocking on his door as just before D-Day, and everyone was on edge. When one MI5 officer was trying to take his mind off the problems of the world by doing a little crossword puzzle-solving, he was concerned when he started finding words like "Utah," "Overlord," "Juno," "Omaha," "Neptune," and "Mulberry" in the puzzle because they were all code words for various parts of the D-Day plan, and they were right gosh darn there.

It turned out that Dawe wrote his crossword by giving his students blank layouts, asking them to fill in the words, and then writing the clues last of all. Unfortunately for him, the boys had been hanging out with some soldiers stationed nearby, and they had written down some of the cool words that they'd overheard. Whoops.

Chris Benoit's Wiki update

What happened to Chris Benoit and his family was nothing short of heartbreaking. In June 2007, news outlets were reporting on a bizarre scene that had played out in the wrestler's home that had ended with his suicide. Both his wife and son were also found in the house, also dead.

But 14 hours before their bodies were discovered by police, Benoit's Wikipedia page was updated to say that he'd been having difficulties because of "personal issues … stemming from the death of his wife Nancy." The edit was reversed within the hour because there was no sourcing information, and the trolls, who were determined to continue with the joke that a normal person would realize isn't funny under any circumstances, reposted the claim with sourcing attributed to "several pro wrestling websites."

The first IP address came from Stamford, Connecticut, which also happens to be WWE headquarters, and the second came from Sydney, Australia. Atlanta police were informed about the edits and ultimately investigated the Benoit home after the WWE received some unsettling text messages. The Wiki user (who, frankly, should have known better) declined all interviews but did post an apology saying that the entire thing was "just a major coincidence" and that he'd made the random assertion on his own. We can only hope that the Internet learned a very important lesson from this one.

Predicting the Titanic

An "unsinkable" ship, described as "the largest craft afloat and the greatest of the works of men." A recovering alcoholic for a captain, a collision with an iceberg, and a catastrophic loss of life. We're not talking about the sinking of the Titanic—we're talking about the sinking of the Titan, and it happened in a 1898 novella by Morgan Robertson called Futility. There were so many similarities that Roberston had to insist he wasn't a clairvoyant, and while that's certainly creepy, we're not done yet.

The Titanic sank in 1912, and it made headlines across the globe. At the same time Titanic was setting sail on its ill-fated journey, Popular Mechanics published a short story by Thornton Jenkins Hains (writing as Mayn Clew Garnett). The tale was about an 800-foot luxury liner that collided with an iceberg while steaming across the Northern Atlantic at a speed of 22.5 knots. Casualties are steep because there aren't enough lifeboats. News of Titanic—an 882-foot liner that collided with its iceberg at 22.5 knots—appeared alongside the fictional tale.

And we're still not done. Twenty-six years before Titanic sank, British journalist WT Stead published fictional The Sinking of a Modern Liner. That ship was sailing from Liverpool to New York City when it sank, and again, casualties were high because of an insufficient number of lifeboats.

WT Stead was onboard Titanic and died in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.