If History Was A Movie, These Historical Figures Had The Most Ridiculous Plot Armor

List Rules
Vote up the famous figures you can't believe made it into the history books.

History is full of people who seem to have been blessed with an extraordinary amount of luck, a good fortune that kept them from physical harm even when events should have dictated otherwise. Many of these people would, in fact, go on to make quite an impact on history in one way or another. If they were in a film, they would no doubt be accused of possessing plot armor. As film buffs know, this describes the tendency of some writers to allow their characters to survive anything coming their way - even if it doesn’t make sense for them to do so - simply because the plot demands they stay alive to the end of the story.

Surprising as it might be, history is full of instances like this, and the users of Reddit have helpfully highlighted some of the most ridiculous examples. Be sure to vote to show which of these incidents of real-life plot armor you find the most implausible. 

  • From Redditor u/Shryxer:

    Anatoli Petrovich Bugorski, Russian particle physicist. He has survived the following:

    • Being thrown out the window by Nazis as a 6-week-old baby
    • Electric shock incident with a broken wire
    • 70,000,000,000 eV proton beam through his head - 70 billion electron volts

    He's the only victim of a particle accelerator accident in all of human history. He's still alive today. I don't know what part of what plot he's in, but he's gotta be important.


  • 2
    115 VOTES

    The Famous Chinese Pirate Queen Zheng Yi Sao Clawed Her Way To The Top And Stayed There Until Her Death

    From Redditor u/Illidariislove:

    Zheng Yi Sao the 18th century pirate queen of China. Started as a prostitute and became queen of the pirates and died comfy in her bed at the age of 70. At a time where being a woman had no social mobility or power in imperial China. Not to mention superior European naval ships were all over the place.


    [Editor’s Note: Though she was born into poverty, Zheng Yi Sao managed to become one of the most powerful and influential pirates of the age. After her husband, the pirate chieftain Zheng Yi, passed, she assumed command of his pirate confederation. Most notably, while she ultimately surrendered to the authorities, she managed to procure pardons for her men so they would not face consequences for their actions. And, unlike other pirates, she did not perish at the hands of the authorities but instead lived out the rest of her life in relative peace.]

  • 3
    120 VOTES

    Bill Millin Played The Bagpipes On D-Day Without Being Shot

    From Redditor u/UnconstrictedEmu:

    Bill Millin, the bagpiper of D-Day. He marched up and down Sword Beach just wailing on the pipes. German soldiers didn’t shoot him because they thought he was insane.


    [Editor’s Note: Bill Millin was a Canadian soldier who was given special permission to play the bagpipes due to his Scottish heritage. He walked up and down the beach during the invasion, and his fellow soldiers found in his music the inspiration to keep fighting. According to his own account, German soldiers told him they didn’t shoot him because they thought he was insane.]

  • 4
    206 VOTES

    Doug Hegdahl Used His Position As A Prisoner Of War To Undermine His Vietnamese Jailers

    From Redditor u/yikester20:

    Doug Hegdahl. He was in the navy during Vietnam. He was blown off his destroyer by the blast from a gun. When he was captured by the Vietnam army, they sent him to the worst POW camp, called the Hanoi Hilton.

    When he was there, he convinced the guards that we was an idiot. He told them he couldn’t read or write. When they gave him a book to read he said he needed glasses, so the guards drove him into town to get glasses. He memorized the route. He also memorized 256 [prisoners'] names to the tune of old Macdonald.

    He shoved dirt in the gas tanks of some of the trucks so they wouldn’t run. Eventually the guards gave him free [rein of] the prison because they thought he was an idiot. They called him the incredibly stupid one. He was then one of the first people to be released from the POW camp. The fact that he didn’t get caught is amazing.


  • From Redditor u/FancyStegosaurus:

    Napoleon Bonaparte. Dude gets deposed and exiled but still manages to come back, resume power, and give Europe a run for its money.


    [Editor’s Note: After spending some time in exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon managed to stage an escape from the island and return to the mainland. There, he successfully converted the very army sent to subdue him, allegedly by stepping in front of them and offering up his life. Rather than shooting him, they switched sides. He would later enter Paris unchallenged, though he would remain in power for only a brief time before being defeated at Waterloo.]

  • From User u/Omny87

    After he enlisted with the Red Cross during WWI, [Ernest Hemingway's] life became an endless series of horrible, painful accidents: He got blown up by a bomb in Milan while delivering goods to soldiers, and spent half a year in a hospital with shrapnel wounds in both legs.

    Throughout the rest of his life, he suffered several concussions and a handful of car crashes, as well as two separate plane crashes in the span of 24 hours, got clawed by a lion, suffered from several diseases, including pneumonia, hepatitis, nephritis, hemochromatosis, dysentery, and hypertension, and once cut his head open when he pulled on a chain thinking he was flushing a toilet, but instead ripped a skylight from the ceiling and smashed it onto his face.