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Listen — the “Butterfly Effect“* is very real, and not just a very strange movie starring a young, nubile Ashton Kutcher.

New Line Cinema

*For the uninitiated among us, the “Butterfly Effect” stems from chaos theory. The term was coined when Edward Lorenz posed the question: “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” at the 139th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In its most basic form, the concept is that the absolute smallest change to a situation can drastically affect the outcome.

And this week, we got a glimpse at some of the most incredible examples of this phenomenon when redditor SidneyRL asked, “What’s the craziest butterfly effect that happened to you because of a small decision you made?”


So, with all of that in mind, here are the most unbelievable stories of how right place + right time = life-changing result:


This saved life:

“I had to call my heart surgeon to give him my new insurance number, which was delayed by a bit because I was waiting on the insurance lady to call, but she had the flu. When I finally called, the receptionist said, ‘Oh hey, we just had a cancellation for this Friday! Do you want it?’ Of course I wanted to get it over with and not wait another full month, so I decided to take the open heart surgery cancellation appointment. Well, my surgeon said thank goodness I did because — once he got a look inside — he realized I would not have survived to the original appointment date.

So, if the insurance lady didn’t have the flu, I would have gotten those numbers sooner, called at a different time, and probably never have gotten the offer to have the surgery when I did.

Someone else’s flu saved my life.”



This MySpace mix-up:

“When my now-husband was 18, he found out that his mom’s side of the family was Spanish, not Mexican. He found this interesting, so he changed his country to ‘Spain’ on MySpace, instead of the US, which is where he really was.

Meanwhile, in Australia, I was helping my friend find Spanish people to add as friends, since she was learning the language. I came across my now-husband’s profile and decided to send him a friend request as well. We got along really well and met in person after three years. We have now been together 11 years, married for seven. If he didn’t change his country to Spain (which he only did for a day or so) we’d never have known each other existed.”



This incredible coincidence:

“I had to renew the sticker on my license plate a couple of years ago and really didn’t feel like sitting in the waiting room by myself forever, so I told my mom I’d take her out to dinner after if she came with me.

The guy working at the counter turned out to be my mom’s long-lost biological brother. If she hadn’t come with me, I would have never known.”




This career-defining email:

“My wife got an email from her old colleagues the day we returned home from our honeymoon, asking if she wanted to star in a short film they were doing for fun. She said ‘sure,’ and asked if I wanted to come along, as she knew I had an interest in movies.

At the time, I worked in life insurance and was miserable, and filmmaking was more than an interest — I had always wanted to make films, but never made the right connections with people and didn’t know where to start.

I made friends with the producer of that short film my wife was in and, 11 years later, filmmaking and video production is my career. I’ve shot feature films, short films, video for TV and web all over the world because of that one email to my wife. Changed our lives!”



This tragic luck:

“So a few years back, I lived in Nice (South of France) for a while. As a musician, I would make a bit of extra cash busking, and one day, I figured I’d go and busk at the Promenade des Anglais by the sea. It’s usually packed, but a generally pleasant place to be. I set up, played a couple of songs and was doing pretty well and making a decent amount of money. Then, suddenly, not one, but two of my guitar strings snapped (I even remember I was playing ‘The Scientist’ at the time).

I was massively gutted and decided to cut my losses early. I stormed off home (by the station) in a bit of a sulk at having to re-string my guitar and cutting short what was essentially one of my most productive days of busking since moving there. Literally one hour later, my phone starts to blow the fuck up with family and friends freaking out and asking if I was at the promenade.

It was Bastille Day, 2016. The truck drove into the same crowd I was playing to, killing 86 people, including my at-the-time gf’s uncle. I had two other friends who were among the 458 injured. I moved home the next month because it was too much, and haven’t been back since.

It’s hard to explain, sometimes I think I was super lucky, sometimes I just kind of cry and wonder why I was lucky and others weren’t. It’s surreal, and despite what people think…it’s a truly horrible feeling.”



This unlikely meet-cute:

“When my dad was 20, he needed to find someone’s phone number, so he called the operator from a pay phone and she gave him the number. He hung up, and she accidentally refunded the money back to the pay phone. She called the pay phone back and asked him if he could put the money back in, which he did and hung up again. She accidentally refunded the money a third time and had to call back again to ask him to put the money back in…he did and hung up.

She was so flustered, she refunded the money AGAIN and called back AGAIN and, since it was such a funny situation, my father got to chatting with her and got HER number. They set up a date, got coffee, and — four years later — were married.

This coming August, it’ll be 50 years for them.

If my dad didn’t need that original phone number, I wouldn’t be here. My dad still calls it ‘The most expensive phone call he ever made.'”


RKO Radio Pictures


This affair to remember:

“My desire for pizza set off a chain reaction that destroyed my family:

One day, I got home from school and really wanted pizza. My family was poor, so spontaneous food trips weren’t always in the cards. I really worked my pouty face on my mom, and begged to go to the local pizza place for dinner. She actually went with it, so we went. While chilling there, I saw my uncle walk by, and I said, ‘Uncle [insert name], is that you?!’ Now, you might be thinking, ‘He just wanted pizza, what’s the big deal?’

WELL, he lived several states away, so to arbitrarily be in town and not tell anyone was strange.

Turned out he was having an affair with his sister-in-law (my aunt on the other side of the family). One thing led to another and now everyone hates each other, and we haven’t had contact in like 20 years.

I just wanted some pizza!”



This KFC collision:

“The other day, I was driving home from work. Traffic was light and I was behind a car with a license plate that started ‘KFD.’ It made me hungry, so I decided to duck through the KFC drive-thru for chippies with extra salt as a little treat to myself!

They took forever to bring them out and by the time they finally did (all told, about 10 minutes later), traffic had slowed to a complete halt.

I needed to get over a bridge that’s normally six lanes, which had now been reduced to one. Turns out, it was due to a massive collision involving several cars. When I finally got to the point where I was driving past the accident, I noticed the license on one of the cars…it’s the KFD plate.

If I hadn’t stopped to get hot chips, I’m fairly sure I’d have been in a major collision. KFC chippies with extra salt saved my life.”



This stars-aligning moment:

“When I was in eighth grade, I had a really long bus ride home, so I would pass the time by reading. One day, I faced the very serious situation of having nothing to read and only a minute to grab something in the library. For whatever reason, I grabbed a book on astronomy. That book was amazing and grabbed me like nothing else had before. I remember being so excited to realize every astronomer on Earth was 13 years old once too, and that was a career you could actually do, even if you were from Pittsburgh!

Anyway, today I am a professional astronomer who studies gigantic space explosions for a living. There was a lot of work to get from that moment to this one, but I’m always grateful that I picked up that library book!”




This romantic change of plans:

“I chose to rearrange my sequence of classes slightly before starting my education. By doing this, I had to commute to a different branch of the school in a different town than the one I was originally signed up for.

On my first day there, I helped a girl who had, somehow, managed to break both of her arms in a drunken shopping cart accident. This girl, whom I would absolutely never have met had I not changed my classes around, is my wife of 14 years.”



This lucky kick out:

“My parents dream was to have a ‘famous child.’ When my older sister’s figure skating career ended in her early twenties, the spotlight shifted to me. I was a fine oboist, and took private voice lessons with the intent to audition for the local music faculty. In any case, there was a lot of pressure and, while I was successful at school and with classical music, it was never enough.

At 17 — before senior year began — my sister gifted me a kitten. My parents had given her two in her senior year and the implication was that it was my turn. When my sister dropped me off at their house, my parents locked me out, saying that if ‘I wanted my own pet, I needed my own place.’ So I found one that night. I worked three jobs to support myself through my senior year and graduated with entrance scholarships to both of the local universities.

Still, I couldn’t afford a music degree while living on my own, even with the entrance scholarships. It was a good thing. Entering the work force showed me how much I love active jobs. Three years later, I enrolled in college and became an industrial mechanic/millwright, to my parents great shame.

After a few years of this I landed a sweet contract where I work on Saturdays and Sundays, but receive a full week’s pay. Although I am a living beacon of disappointment, I comfort myself with my 100k a year job, two day workweek, and two cats.

So, basically, kicked out over a kitten saved me from wasting years chasing an improbable career just to please my parents.”



This best friend:

“Four years ago a kid I barely knew from school invited me to a Six Flags. I was a bit of a loner at the time and I heard rumors about this kid being ‘weird,’ so I intended not to go but, on the day he wanted me to go, I was extra bored and decided on a whim, ‘Why not?’ So I met up with this kid and two of his friends.

It’s been four years and that ‘kid’ is my best friend, and I have three other very close friends I met through him. Not only that, but I also met my first ever girlfriend because of the connections some of my new friends had. It transformed my high school years from being lonely to having an amazing group of friends I could do almost anything with.

I intend to ask him to be my best man one day, and I don’t intend on ever falling out of touch with any of them. I’m home from college now, and we are still having a lot of fun together. Going to Six Flags was still the best decision I ever made.”


Sony Pictures Releasing


This book-based life change:

“In high school I read House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and, one day, was trying to explain the concept of the book to a friend. My drama teacher overheard and said it sounded a bit like Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov.

On his recommendation, I read that book, which sparked an interest in Russian literature. I branched out from there, always seeking out new reading opportunities. My quest to find more reading led me to major in English and my becoming a teacher myself. Being a teacher at a Title I school has had a huge impact on my political philosophy as well.

So, basically, I am who I am today because my drama teacher suggested a book to me.”



This Birthday gift:

“I sent a friend from secondary school (who I had a huge crush on) a message just saying, ‘Happy Birthday!’ a couple years after we all left school. I did the whole ‘We’ll have to catch up soon!’ thing, not expecting much.

He replied, ‘How about Monday?’ So I saw him that Monday for a coffee.

Next month is our six year anniversary.

It’s truly the best thing that ever happened to me, and my friends joke that I’m the queen of escaping the friendzone.”



This close call:

“I was going to carpool with my aunt to go to a family gathering. At the last minute, I decided to go by myself instead so that I could leave early if I wanted.

On the way there, my aunt drove off the road into a ditch. She was okay, but the passenger side of her car — where I likely would’ve been sitting — was totally smashed in.”




This Mary Jane matchmaker:

“I decided to try weed in high school. I met a dude through my weed connections, and we became roommates. My roommate talked me into trying World of Warcraft. I met a girl through WoW. Years later, I dated her. A year after that, I moved states and married her. We have kids now.

So, basically, my children are a direct result of weed.”



And finally, this viral cat video:

“A few years ago, I was on the phone with my boss as I was getting home. We were discussing what we needed to get done the next day when he asked, ‘What the eff is that noise?!’

I said it’d make more sense to just show him, so I took a video of me opening the door and feeding my (very loud) farm cats.

He wanted me to show the video to other people, but I realized I didn’t like anyone crowding me awkwardly looking at my phone to show the video, so I uploaded it to YouTube. The next morning, I went to show someone on the computer, and noticed it was up to 11 views, which I found odd.

Then, it went viral.

Thousands of views per hour. I was getting constant calls and emails about buying the video rights and just asking for permission to use it. It took off again in the pandemic time and has been a nice little source of income when things have been rough.

All because I didn’t like holding my phone to show people a 30 second video.”


Now it’s your turn! Can you outdo these? What’s your absolute wildest “Butterfly Effect” story? Share in the comments below!


Some responses were edited for length and/or clarity. H/T Reddit.


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