Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. We’ve all had experiences in our everyday lives that seem too crazy to be real, whether it’s just extreme coincidences, uncanny timing, or unexpected connections between different people.

And this happens on a larger scale, too—some of the real-life political scandals that have taken place wouldn’t seem out of place on a Shonda Rhimes show. And then there are those stories that seem so improbable that an editor would tell you to edit them out of your book for implausibility.

These situations are nothing new, and in fact, have happened since the beginning of recorded history. People took to Reddit to share some of their favorite stories that sound like fiction, but that actually happened IRL. Read on and prepare to be shocked by these jaw-dropping true-to-life tales.

Napoleon the master manipulator.

Return of Napoleon An army was sent to intercept him, and they ended up fighting for him. If it were shown in a movie most people would have considered it cheesy and unrealistic. Moosewalaaaa He converted a whole army to his side—not bad!

The craziest marathon ever.

The Marathon at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. The first place finisher did most of the race in a car. He had intended to drop out and got a car back to the stadium to get his change of clothes, and just kind of started jogging when he heard the fanfare. The second place finisher was carried across the finish line, legs technically twitching, by his trainers. They had been refusing him water and giving him a mixture of brandy and rat poison for the entire race. Doping wasn't illegal yet (and this was a terrible attempt at it), so he got the gold when the first guy was revealed…. The fourth finisher was a Cuban mailman who had raised the funds to attend the Olympics by running nonstop around his entire country. He landed in New Orleans and promptly lost all of the traveling money on a riverboat casino. He ran the race in dress shoes and long trousers (cut off at the knee by a fellow competitor with a knife). He probably would have come in first (well, second, behind the car) had it not been for the hour nap he took on the side of the track after eating rotten apples he found on the side of the race. 9th and 12th finishers were from South Africa and ran barefoot. South Africa didn't actually send a delegation—these were students who just happened to be in town and thought it sounded fun. 9th was chased a mile off course by angry dogs. Note: These are the first Africans to compete in any modern Olympic event. Half the participants had never raced competitively before. Some died. St. Louis only had one water stop on the entire run. This, coupled with the dusty road and exacerbated by the cars kicking up dust, lead to the above fatalities. And yet, somehow, rat poison guy survived to get the gold. The Russian delegation arrived a week late because they were still using the Julian calendar. In 1904. Seriously. This needs to be a movie. Dracon_Pyrothayan Agreed! Come on, Hollywood.

A distraction technique we’ve never heard of.

"In 496 BC the army of King Goujian of Yueh put three ranks of criminals in the front of their battle formation. Their task was to impress the enemy with their ferocity and commitment by chopping off their own heads as soon as battle was joined. The tactic was a success; while their opponents from the State of Wu were recovering from their astonishment they were overrun by the rest of the Yueh army. The convicts, who were condemned men anyway, had been coerced by the threat that if they didn't comply with this plan their families would be executed also." - Stephen Fry on QI I think cutting off one's own head is pretty unlikely, but they might have slit their own throats. nezumipi 496 BC was a crazy time, it seems.

A stinky situation.

The Great Stink of London in 1858. One summer the heat dried up the River Thames (where all the human waste went) and an unbearable smell pervaded throughout the entire city. All Parliament representatives were eventually coerced out of their homes outside of London to convene and solve the issue. Much to the citizens’ glee, Parliament was held in their building on the bank of the River Thames, resulting in one of the fastest Parliament decisions ever made to reform the London sewer system. BallinFC That’s one way to combat political gridlock!

Speaking of London...

The London Beer Flood of 1814 - when one vat of beer at Meux & Co. brewery exploded, it proceeded to cause a domino effect of other vats to also burst, causing a tidal wave that flooded a neighborhood, leaving crumbled homes in its path as well as 8 people dead (and dozens injured). VictorBlimpmuscle A beer tidal wave sounds absolutely terrifying.

Weather issues.

The Japanese "Kamikaze" (Divine Wind) that saved the country from an amphibious invasion by the Mongolian hordes. The Mongols captured a foothold on some outlying Japanese islands and started to attack the mainland. The Japanese army pushed them back, and they had to retreat to China. When they did, a typhoon-ravaged their navy and sank their ships. The Mongolians (probably reasonably), seeing this as a fluke, decided to rebuild and attack again. Seven years later. Unfortunately for them, the Japanese fortified their coastline. After basically months of sailing around seeking a place to land, ANOTHER typhoon struck their fleet and destroyed them. There would be no third invasion. firewoven The third time is not the charm when it comes to typhoons.

Free falling.

Vesna Vulović fell from a height of 10160 meters and lived. She holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. McPansen That’s 6.3 miles—yikes!

The saga of Sealand.

Paddy Roy Bates - the founding King of Sealand - had his country (a small naval platform) invaded and his son Michael taken hostage by Dutch and German Mercenaries. They came in riding jet skis, speed boats, and helicopters while he was in England buying groceries. He hired a helicopter, came down a rope with a shotgun, reconquered Sealand and took the mercenaries hostage. An official German diplomat was sent to negotiate the release of the ringleader. dwynalda3 We have so many questions about this. First of all, can this please become a movie?

The (nearly) indestructible man.

The owner and bartender of a bar once tried to take out and insurance policy on one of their alcoholic customers with one of their friends, in an attempt to make some fast cash. They immediately opened his tab up, hoping he would drink himself to death. That didn’t work, so they began spiking his unlimited drinks with anti freeze. That didn’t work, so they decided to pump carbon monoxide into his apartment one night. He still wouldn’t die. They then beat him savagely and put him in the back of their car to bury him in a rural area. Halfway out there, they heard noises coming from the trunk of the car. He still hadn’t died, and when they stopped and got him out, he began walking away under his own power, it took three times being hit with a car to finally kill him. That man may be the closest thing we’ve ever had to a superhero. R_B_2 Was he a man or a cat? We counted at least seven lives.

The crafty king.

When King Edward I was young, before he was King, he was a prisoner of Simon De Montfort during a civil war. During his captivity he asked to ride the horses at the castle where he was being held. He proceeded to ride them one by one, tiring them all out. When it came to the last horse he mounted, bade his captors farewell and rode away. All of the other horses were too tired to give effective chase. djs1645 Smartest escape tactic ever!

An animal employee.

Jack, a baboon who was employed to change rail signals. “After initial skepticism, the railway decided to officially employ Jack once his job competency was verified. The baboon was paid twenty cents a day, and a half-bottle of beer each week. It is widely reported that in his nine years of employment with the railroad, Jack never made a mistake." emoji_wut We knew baboons were smart, but we didn’t realize they were this smart.

Another alcohol flood.

The fire in Dublin, Ireland on June 18, 1875. A fire broke out and spread to a malt house and the heat broke open every alcohol barrel and flooded the streets with it. The people of Dublin decided to drink the burning alcohol that was spreading in the streets, filled with litter and debris, and that was literally on fire. 13 people died, not from the fire or smoke, but from alcohol poisoning they got from drinking the street whiskey. PizzaTime666 Unlimited alcohol is a dangerous thing.

Nineteenth-century tourism.

In the 1800s there were street vendors in Egypt who sold...ancient Egyptian mummies. Just lined them up on a street corner and sold them like they were umbrellas on a rainy day. English tourists would buy them to display as oddities. CarlSpencer Museum curators have probably wept at this fact.

Rabbit origin story.

Some guy in Australia decided he wanted to hunt rabbits but rabbits don’t live in Australia, so then he released like 12 in his backyard and now there’s a f*** ton of rabbits in Australia. CrypticZM This is why we can’t have nice things.

A head-scratching war.

The entire Taiping Rebellion. A war started by a Chinese peasant who dreamed (and believed) he was Jesus' younger brother. Although poor, the first thing he did was have a giant demon-slaying sword forged. Took over a city. Asked the British why they wouldn't pay him tribute as the new head of their faith. Engaged in total war with the Qing. Applied pseudo-communist policies like abolishing private property. Separated women and men from ever interacting, and sent the women to the front lines. Over 20 million people died, with some estimates as high as 40 million. It was the fourth deadliest conflict in human history. IT KILLED MORE PEOPLE THAN WWI. Only WWII, Transition of the Ming, and Qing conquest of the Ming were deadlier. Naweezy Yep, this sounds like a fever dream but it actually happened.

Unexpected art.

During the First World War, navies from different countries hired artists to paint crazy patterns on their ships in order to throw off the aim of enemy U-boats. Source RedneckJedi72 Keep them dizzy with optical illusions.

Escape artist.

Ted Bundy escaped from custody twice, the first by jumping out of a 3-story building, second time by taking a guard's outfit and walking out the front door. yonny8 He really tried it.

The craziest response to chopping down a tree.

Operation Paul Bunyan To summarize, some Americans were killed by the North Korean military while cutting down a tree in the Korean DMZ. In response to this, to show the North Koreans that you don't f*** with the United States, America went back to finish cutting down the tree with a little bit of backup firepower to help keep them safe. Specifically, America and South Korea sent a convoy of 23 vehicles and about 140 men, armed with rifles, grenade launcher, vehicle mounted chain guns, chainsaws, some with suicide vests, some with axes and taekwondo training. They had 27 helicopters circling behind them (7 of which were attack helicopters). They had B-52s flying overhead, escorted or accompanied by F-4s, F-5s, F-86s, and F-111s, all of which were armed and ready to engage. They moved a carrier offshore. Just behind the border, they had full infantry, artillery, and armor divisions standing by. All this, just to chop down a tree. And to send a message, of course. thehonestyfish They (literally) brought in the big guns.

When an ice cream truck is not just an ice cream truck.

The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars - 6 people died in a turf war over ice cream van routes (they were dealing heroin out of the vans). RageousT This needs to be a movie too.

The nearly unstoppable Alexander.

The rise and fall of Alexander the Great. Never lost a battle in his life, conquered the whole known world, and only stopped because his soldiers were tired. Blahblahblurred Clearly no one told Alexander about the importance of self care.

Schnapps and soldiers aren’t a great mix.

There was that time Austrian hussars got some schnapps on their way to attack to Ottomans, got drunk, and fought their own infantry over access to the schnapps. In the multilingual confusion someone shouted, "The Turks!" which caused widespread panic and a full retreat by both the cavalry and infantry. Officers shouting "Halt!" in German sounded to their non-Austrian allies like they were shouting "Allah!", which only deepened the confusion. As they retreated into the rest of the Austrian army, those commanders also thought it was a Turkish attack and ordered artillery to fire into the oncoming men…. According to Wikipedia there are estimates of 1,200 casualties. JLake4 Miscommunication is dangerous in more ways than one.

The trip of a lifetime.

In 2007 a paraglider got trapped in the updraft of two joining thunderstorms and lifted to an altitude of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). She landed 3.5 hours later about 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) north of her starting position having survived extreme cold, lightning and lack of oxygen. McPansen File paragliding under “things we’ll never do."

Dancing is contagious.

A town in France nearly danced itself to death in 1518 because of a dancing plague. SockInAFrockOnARock Doctors at the time said it was a “‘natural disease’ caused by ‘hot blood.’"

Never surrender.

There were a few Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender after World War II and remained on duty in the rainforest for 30 years after the war ended. Chainsaw_Hamster Wonder if they ever left...

The strangest escape.

A Chinese emperor once ran in circles around a pillar to escape an assassin. He survived. awesomeface357 Okay, that’s the coolest thing ever.

The case of the disappearing prime minister.

In 1967, Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt simply vanished without a trace and no one knew what happened for 40 years. Jimmy_Ireland He went swimming and was never seen again. His death was officially ruled a drowning in 2005.

A piano masterpiece.

The longest piano piece of any kind is Vexations by Erik Satie. It consists of a 180-note composition which, on the composer's orders, must be repeated 840 times so that the whole performance is 18 hours 40 minutes. Its first reported public performance in September 1963, in the Pocket Theater, New York City, required a relay team of 10 pianists. The New York Times critic fell asleep at 4 a.m. and the audience dwindled to 6 masochists. At the conclusion, one sadomasochist shouted: "Encore!" Back2Bach How long would you last in that theater?

An unlucky bear.

The American Air Force shot a bear out of a B-58 while testing ejector seats. ToasterDoaster On the bright side, the bear did have a parachute.

The airplane took a while to catch on.

The Wright Brothers went to the US military to pitch their plane. They were like “A flying machine? Get the f*** out of here." They did eventually bring them round in the end though. PM_PhotosOfSpiderman It must have seemed like a pretty crazy concept back then.

A joyride with huge consequences.

In 1987, a teenager (19) from West Germany piloted a small Cessna and flew it into the USSR (without permit of course) all the way to Moscow, where he landed on a bridge next to the Red Square and near the Kremlin. He was one of the catalysts for the fall of the USSR, as the military's failure to shoot him down gave Gorbachev a perfect reason to sack key opponents in the USSR military. Spidron Never underestimate a teenager. Be sure to share this article with all your history-loving friends!