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Tempting Fate: Real Life

  • TransLink, the company in charge of transit in Vancouver, is quite fond of doing this via their Twitter page.
  • Adolf Hitler loved this trope (literally) to death. He decided to invade Russia from the West. No-one's ever managed that before, but hey, there's a first time for everything. He began his invasion on the same day (22 June) as Napoleon Bonaparte had begun his empire-ruining invasion. Okay, that's a little bit unwise. After the first phase of Barbarossa fails to accomplish its objectives, he decides to plan the next phase of Army Group South's campaign at Poltava, site of the battle that ended Charles XII of Sweden's invasion of Russia and ruined Sweden as a Great Power? He's definitely trying to mock someone up there.
  • Hermann Goering reputedly said, "If bombs drop on Berlin, you may call me Meyer."
    • Meyer said what?
    • Being called "Meyer" is a German idiom that something is impossible (Meyer, or Meier, is the second most common surname in Germany). Göring also made comments that he would eat his hat. Thus, when he made tours of the devastated cities, civilians would call out "Hello, Herr Meier! How's your hat?"
  • Captain William "Buckey" O'Neill of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War was strolling up and down the lines in plain view. When one of his soldiers asked him to keep his head down, he responded with "Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me." A few minutes later, he caught a bullet that went in through his mouth and out the back of his head, killing him instantly.
  • As worded in Escape from Alcatraz, "No-one has ever escaped from Alcatraz, and no-one ever will." 34 people attempted to escape, but everyone was recaptured or killed, one when he reached shore. Five were unaccounted for and probably drowned, though there's evidence pointing to Frank Morris and his co-escapees boarding a nearby boat headed for Brazil, thus making them the only people to successfully escape from Alcatraz.
    • The MythBusters tried the Frank Morris / Anglin brothers escape with the same resources, and made it (albeit using a different vector than the FBI reportnote ). The biggest piece of evidence that Morris and his cohorts didn't escape is that they've never been heard from since.
  • It was widely boasted before the RMS Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage that not even God could sink her. As mentioned in another page, it turned out that God loves a challenge.
    • The liner's safety was boasted to the point where some commented on Titanic as being "practically unsinkable". The problem was, people didn't see the "practically" and went by just "unsinkable". The "God himself" was just a rumour that's still kicking.
      • The "God can't sink her" bit might have been added because the Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic was said to be only sinkable by god himself. Given the fact that the Olympic suffered from numerous man made accidents and survived all of them, they might have been right this time.
    • This quotation was included in the James Cameron movie (along with every other well-known anecdote about the Titanic).
    • Captain Smith said that he couldn't "imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that." Christ, there's Tempting Fate and then there's just begging it.
      • That quote was in 1907 - a good five years before Titanic set out on her maiden voyage. Captain Smith wasn't even talking about the Titanic. He was referring to the Adriatic, another White Star liner he commanded on its maiden voyage.
    • And now someone is working on creating the Titanic II. Commenters wasted no time asking What Could Possibly Go Wrong?.
    • Averted in one case after the movie Titanic made it big: one marketer suggested the idea of building a replica Titanic that people who enjoyed the movie could go for a cruise on. To his (and no one else's) surprise, not a single ship engineering company was willing to work with him on this endeavor.
    • Consider also the ship's name: it's derived from a race of gods that were overthrown. Moreover, sailors say boastful names are dangerous, for they draw the attention of the sea...
    • Its even larger sister ship the Brittanic, was designed with much better safety features and when it when it became a hospital ship in WWI, it was said it would take more than one torpedo to sink her. It struck a single naval mine and met the same fate as its sister, though this time it wasn't the engineers who built the thing that were to blame, but rather a single crewman who failed to activate the water tight door he was supposed to man. (On a side note, rumor is that the ship was originally going to be named the Gigantic, but the name was changed in the wake of the Titanic disaster in an effort to avoid this trope.)
  • There was once an airship called the R-101. Devised as a part of the British "Imperial Airship Scheme," the contract pitted two competing designs against one another- the exemplary Vickers-built R-100, and the government-built R-101. The materials, design, and capabilities of the R-101 were woefully inadequate in comparison to the R-100, to the point where the airship had to be lengthened so that it would have enough lift to fly- making it the largest airship in the world. More consideration was given to the incredibly spacious, opulent(and heavy) interior than to airworthiness. Eager to get a lead on its rival, the government pulled strings to have flight and safety testing rushed through or neglected so that it could make a maiden voyage to India. Despite being warned of a vicious storm ahead, the captain decided to plunge straight into it. The R-101 never made it to India. She was damaged by the storm and crashed into the ground, where her Hydrogen exploded in a massive fireball that took the lives of all but eight of the people aboard. Afterwards, the wreckage of the R-101 was collected. It was reforged into a new airship, one of unprecedented size and exquisite luxury... called the Hindenburg.
  • General William Slim's book Defeat into Victory; he said during the catastrophic retreat from Burma: "It could be worse, it could be raining." And sure enough, a few hours later, it was!
  • In a more recent example, former President of Taiwan Chen during his time in office ran a fierce anti-corruption platform. He even stated that if he was ever convicted of corruption that he should suffer most severe punishment the law could mete out. Now that he and his family have been indicted for, among other things, embezzling billions (in terms of US CURRENCY) from Taiwan's coffers, guess what prosecutors are asking for in terms of punishment?
  • Nazi field marshal Fedor Von Bock, who was nicknamed The Dier, was famous for lecturing his troops about dying for the glory of Nazi Germany. He was killed by a British plane, along with his wife and daughter, being the only one of Hitler's field marshals who was killed by enemy fire.
  • The September 11 attacks: A Discovery Channel documentary somewhere in 1999 about the 1993 WTC bombing in which the narrator spoke too soon and was tempting fate. The documentary ended with the narrator quoting the man who drove the van full of explosives into the garage saying something in the lines of "Next time, we'll bring them down!" to which the narrator concluded that for the WTC, there would never be a next time! Unfortunately, we all know who turned out to be right.
    • The 1998 edition of the documentary series Black Box called "Sky Crimes" ended with federal air marshals being trained and said that no American airliners had been hijacked since the 1980s and the marshals think "that's mostly down to them".
  • Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" spoken early in the Iraq War. [1]
    • Supporters later asserted that in this instance, the President was referring to the narrower mission of removing Saddam Hussein from power, although at the time, the President stated that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended", and "in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed". Ninety-six percent of American soldiers killed in Iraq were killed in guerrilla warfare after the speech.
    • It was later pointed out that the banner was referring to the carrier's crew, who were leaving station to go home, and was not put up expressly for Bush's benefit.
  • The father, George H.W Bush is also an example. During the first invasion of Iraq, George H.W Bush thought that a clean invasion and pullout would make up for the long bloody Vietnam War and guarantee his reelection. Bush lost his reelection, because the economy went into recession, or or voters felt that Bush didn't do enough when he left Saddam Hussein in power, despite crippling many of his weapon capabilities.
  • Star Trek technical consultant Michael Okuda tempted fate by saying that NASA did not share Starfleet's concern about 25-year-old spaceships as the Columbia was nearly that old and still flying in his text commentary for the Star Trek 3 Special Edition DVD. Shortly after the release of the DVD, the Columbia burned up on re-entry.
  • The Swiss managed to get a subversion with their experimental nuclear reactor at Lucens. The head of the project assured the federal council that "everything is safe, and nothing can go wrong." On the same day there was a reactor meltdown. But since they feared something like that might happen, the reactor was built in a cave which was then simply sealed off for the next decade.
  • The UK military putting automated death machines under the control of a system called Skynet. Nothing bad yet, but I think we can all agree it is only a matter of time.
  • Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was once watching a propaganda film with his men when it showed a clip of him boasting that the Africa Corp would never again retreat. Everyone (including Rommel) immediately burst into laughter.
  • The RAF roundel is a big target painted onto the side of British military aircraft. Scuttlebutt has it that this was originally designed to be a deliberate taunt for anyone trying to shoot it down.
    • The same could be said of any Air Force roundel in the same style.
      • Except that the roundel used by the British is in the style of a bullseye. The New Zealanders upped the ante by centering a flightless bird in theirs, at which point they had to be doing it just to openly mock their opponents.
    • The Royal Flying Corps chose a roundel design because ground troops found it hard to tell a Union Flag from a Maltese Cross (the symbol the Imperial German Army and Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Air Services used) when painted on an aircraft's wing three thousand feet above and moving at 90 mph. The French selected a roundel design to match the British, because they were on the same side, and wanted to minimise mistakes.
      • Most of the military air services of the Allies used some variation of the roundel design during World War 1, thus Italian warplanes had the same red, white and green roundels used to this day, and Imperial Russian and American ones red, white and blue in sequences different from the French and British ones. Only late in the war did U.S. planes change to a blue circle with a white five-pointed star and a small red circle in the centre, while around that time Russia switched to red five-pointed stars.
      • The French design went back to the cockades worn on hats, caps and shakos ever since the Revolution of 1789. German soldiers wore a small metal cockade rather like the RAF roundel (only with black instead of blue) on the front of their forage caps (and officers' peaked caps), i. e. right in the centre of their foreheads since 1871.
  • One of Gerald Durrell's experiences, recounted in Fillets of Plaice, involved a visit to Mamfe from the District Commissioner. Within two seconds of the DC commenting that he wouldn't have thought you'd get very many animals so close to civilization, the palm leaf fan attached to the ceiling gave way and disgorged a variety of spiders, bats, and a young green mamba.
  • The Iroquois Theater advertised itself as "Absolutely Fireproof". It managed 37 days and the title of worst building fire in U.S. history.
  • The BBC tempted fate during the Moon landing to a horrifying degree that — thankfully — never went through. While the astronauts were on the moon, the BBC decided to play "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. It was a space-y song, which is understandable. However, the last few lines of the song have Major Tom ask Ground Control to tell his wife he loves her, before his circuit dies. This implies he never makes it back to Earth, which was pretty creepy when you realized that no one knew if the Apollo astronauts would make it back alive.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, a brilliant politician and the Russian prime minister Pyotr Stolypin said that given 20 years of peace he'd be able to turn Russia into a prosperous and advanced power. Before long the country was plunged into the bloodiest war so far, had two revolutions break out with the second of which the Russian Empire was gone. To be fair, he was not even around at the start of World War I, since he was assassinated in 1911. There is still a lot of speculation about what would have happened if he managed to keep Russia out of the war.
  • While en route to California in June 1846, Tamsen Donner wrote, "I never could have believed we could have traveled so far with so little difficulty. Indeed, if I do not experience something far worse than I have yet done, I shall say the trouble is all in getting started." A few months later, she did experience something far worse.
  • In a 1961 speech Khrushchev said that "the current generation of Soviet people will live under communism." Not only did the plan to complete the transition from socialism to communism by 1980 fail, the generation he was referring to now lives under liberal democracy capitalism authoritarianism fascism something that is definitely not communism (and the other 14 republics, where the results of The Great Politics Mess-Up vary greatly).
  • Similar to the above noted example from the Soviet anthem, the Coat of Arms of the Austro-Hungarian Empire bore the words Indivisibiliter Ac Inseperabiliter (Indivisible and Inseperable.) Two guesses as to what happened.
    • It could be interpreted as a challenge to Italy, who claimed as theirs some Austro-Hungarian lands (and had in fact successfully taken other territories from them before the Austrian Empire became Austro-Hungarian) and had expansionist aims on others. Italy not only succeeded, but the Italian absolute victory against Austria-Hungary at Vittorio Veneto in World War I was the direct cause of the split between Austria, Hungary and the other countries born from the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
  • The game(?) where one chants the mantra, Bloody Mary the required amount of times would qualify. Not sure how many times it actually requires, and it may vary.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald's last words were, "Aww, there ain't going to be anybody shooting at me, you're just being melodramatic."
    • The last thing the JFK heard was, "Mr. President, you can't say Dallas doesn't love you,"
  • In April 2010, in response to Iranian cleric Hajotoselam Kazem Swdighi's proclamation that women dressing immodestly causes earthquakes, Jen McCreight, a student at Purdue set up an event called "Boobquake", encouraging women to dress less modestly than usual, to prove that it wouldn't cause an earthquake. The day of the event there was an earthquake.
    • There is an earthquake somewhere in the world every 5 to 10 minutes or so.
      • Not of a magnitude 6.5, though.
      • Post-Boobquake analysis showed that the number of earthquakes that occurred that day was not a statistically significant amount above average, and pointed out that there's a 37% chance of a 6.5 quake happening on any given day.
  • Maurice Krafft famously said: "I am never afraid because I have seen so much eruptions in 23 years that even if I die tomorrow, I don't care". Guess what happened 45 minutes later at Mount Unzen.
  • So, it's the sixteenth century, and you, the King of Spain, have decided to liberate England from the heresy of protestant rule by conquering the shit out of it. So, you build the biggest naval fleet in recent memory and merrily sail it up to England, whistling all the way. And what do you call it? The "Great and Most Fortunate Armada", also known as the "Invincible Armada". After being repulsed by the English the fleet gets caught in a storm that takes it all the way round the British Isles, sinking most of the ships along the way, and what's left gets destroyed by Sir Francis Drake. Frankly, you deserved it.
    • The Spanish name was "Great and Very Happy Armada". The "Invincible Armada" moniker was made up by the English after it went down.
  • According to The Other Wiki, the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred when BP executives were on board celebrating the project's safety record.
  • Those Wacky Nazis just had to go and call their state "The Millennial Reich" (Tausendjähriges Reich, "Thousand-Year Empire"), didn't they?
    • Similarly before them, the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty, said that his dynasty would last for a thousand years. It then only lasted less than 15 years.
      • Maybe an aversion in case of Qin Shi Huang. His own dynasty did not last long, but the empire he founded, Qin-a (Qin is pronounced like Chin), has already lasted more than 2,000 years and is still going strong.
      • And the Ottomans took it a step further by referring to their empire as "The Eternal State".
  • According to The Other Wiki, leading up to the St. Nazaire Raid during World War 2, one of the German commanders, when asked what would they do if the base was subject to an attack by British Commandos, replied that "an attack on the base would be hazardous and highly improbable."
    • In fairness to the man, the British suicidally ramming his base with a destroyer-shaped Trojan horse packed with explosives to render it inhospitable for a battleship that was never intended to go there in the first place is highly improbable.
      • It gets worse. Not knowing that the destroyer that crashed into the drydock gate was full of explosives, the German commander was gloatingly giving the captured commandos "The Reason You Suck" Speech, while many German military personnel were looking around the ship , quite a few with their French girlfriends. Things changed when the destroyer blew up a little bit later and took out the drydock and everyone around it.
  • Before WWII the American military was warned that if the Japanese were to ever launch an attack on the United States that their most likely first target would be Pearl Harbor. Not only did they blow it off as nonsense they fired the guy as well. A couple years later....
    • To be fair, one reason Pearl Harbor was seen as an unlikely target was because the Philippine Islands was seen as a much better target, being a valuable American colony very near to Japanese territory, and rather less strongly defended. The Pacific Fleet had been deployed to Hawaii to begin with so it could respond more quickly to aggression against the Philippines (previously the fleet was based in San Diego, California). They simply didn't have the foresight to consider that the Japanese might be bold enough to attack Hawaii and the Philippines.
  • The Residence of the Bavarian monarchs in Munich has many rooms decorated after a theme, e.g. the Elements, or the Seasons. While most of the building suffered damage during air raids in 1944, one of the few rooms to be completely obliterated along with all its contents was the "Eternity Room".
  • German soccer side VfL Bochum managed to barely keep their prestigious place in the national league for about twenty years. In 1992, fans began to wear shirts with the new-coined adjective "unabsteigbar" ("irrelegable"). Guess what happened the next year...
    • Possibly a reference to this occurred in 2011: regional rival Borussia Dortmund had an almost insurmountable lead to win the national title, which hadn't happened for nearly a decade. Everyone from the team was so careful not to say the word "championship" that the fans started to carry mocking signs saying "Klassenerhalt!" ("non-relegation"). It worked - Dortmund won the 2011 Bundesliga.
  • Neville Chamberlain pronounced that "I believe it is peace in our time" after returning to England following the Munich Conference. The date? 1938. Feel free to congratulate him on his accomplishment.
  • The "War to end all Wars" created more wars.
  • During World War I, a British battlecruiser was named HMS Invincible. During the Battle of Jutland, it was blown into fragments by an ammunition explosion (after being hit by one shell shot by a German battlecruiser) and sank with most of its thousand-man crew.
    • The latest HMS Invincible (aircraft carrier) did live up to its name. She was scrapped, however.
  • Jean Drapeau said that the Olympics could no more lose money than a man could have a baby. Although he was mayor of Montreal, he apparently didn't know his citizens very well, and the 1976 Montreal Olympics were nothing short of an economic disaster. He died in 1999—eight years before Montreal finally payed off the Olympics (around 2007). Much of the problem was the sheer profiteering by Quebec businesses and citizens.
  • The Great Leap Forward. Admittedly, we have the benefit of hindsight in our cynical day and age, but one can't help wonder whether such a name invited the subsequent catastrophe or not.
  • One advertisement for Northrup Grumman says, "How do cyberterrorists get past 75,000 of the industry's best? They don't." Oops.
  • The Ikarus ultralight plane. For when you really wanna die.
    • Even better, it's manufactured by an aircraft manufacturer called Comco Ikarus.
  • Union General John Sedgwick in the American Civil War. Last words "What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!" Several minutes later, he made the remark a second time and was shot by a sniper while his men were ducking for cover. In some versions of the story, the soldier accompanying him lampshaded this, and Sedgwick replied, "All right, my man; go to your place."
  • An Australian billionaire is apparently commissioning a Chinese company to create "a 21st-century version of the Titanic" ready to set sail in 2016. Yeah, that's gonna end well...
  • Mark Wilkinson of Birmingham, England gave his 16-foot fishing boat the tongue-in-cheek name Titanic II and took it on its maiden voyage in Dorset in June 2011. No points for guessing what happened to it.
  • Various castles and fortresses that were declared to be "impregnable" at one point or another, although since any television documentary involving a successful siege operation invokes this trope one has to wonder how often that claim was actually made.
  • Robert McKimson, one of the Looney Tunes directors, told Friz Freleng (who he was working for) one day in 1977 that his doctor said he could expect to live a long time, due to family history. Freleng later reflected, “He had just come from the doctor who told him he had a long life coming because of his [family] history, and he was bragging, ‘I’m gonna be around after you guys are gone!’” A few days later, McKimson died of a heart attack while lunching with Freleng. Freleng outlived him by 18 years.
  • Following a lawsuit over The Lord of the Rings, New Line Cinema executives Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne declared in early 2007 that Peter Jackson would never direct another film for New Line while they were in control. Just over five years later, New Line released his newest film, The Hobbit, under new management, Shaye and Lynne having been removed by Warner Bros. in a shake-up directly resulting from the failure of The Golden Compass later that year.
  • During the 2008 campaign, Obama was repeatedly called the next "Lincoln" or "Kennedy". Naturally, this was a huge source of Snark Bait, but it has luckily (so far) been averted.
  • During the making of The Lion King, directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff had just gone through a spat with Elton John about the song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight". They said that now they were out of that, things couldn't get any worse. Then the ground started to shake.
  • According to The Other Wiki, the town of Frostproof, Florida so named itself as "a marketing ploy to convince potential landowners that the town has never had, and never would have, a frost that could destroy the large citrus-driven economy. However, only a couple of years later, a frost killed most of the citrus in Frostproof."
  • The Japanese battleship (originally battlecruiser) Kongo, whose name means 'indestructible.' Sunk by a US submarine during World War II.
    • There is another Kongo now, a Japanese version of an Arleigh Burke class (AEGIS) destroyer. We shall see how that goes.
  • American Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had prepared a 1,118-word victory speech, as well as a website for when he won the 2012 election. He had not prepared a concession speech. He lost.
    • He must have missed that episode of The West Wing where Sam and Toby argue about the need for a concession speech...
    Sam Seaborn: You wrote a concession?
    Toby Ziegler: Of course I wrote a concession. You want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing?
    Sam: No.
    Toby: Then go outside, turn around three times and spit. What the hell's the matter with you?
  • US politician Gary Hart was the obvious choice for the 1988 Democratic presidential candidate, and a likely predicted winner of the election. Then he gave an interview in which he mocked journalists and taunted reporters, and ended by throwing them this challenge: "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead.". They did - and photographed the married Hart "meeting" a "model" half his age on the evening of the very same day when he gave his taunt, on a Yacht called the S.S. Monkey Business. Hart's public support went down like a meteorite and Michael Dukakis became the Democrats' candidate, with known results. Hilariously, Hart still seems to have hopes of running as a Democratic presidential candidate one day.
  • In a German newspaper from January 20 1989 Erich Honecker was quoted saying "Mauer bleibt noch 100 Jahre", "The [Berlin] wall will stand for another 100 years". Said wall was torn down before the year was out.
  • The Italian navy commissioned two ships named after count Camillo Benso of Cavour. The first was the battleship Conte di Cavour, which, during World War II, was sank in harbour by planes twice (the first from British carrier-launched torpedo planes while in Taranto, whose waters are so shallow that the use of air-launched torpedoes was deemed impossible (the Japanese got the idea for Pearl Harbour from this), the second from Allied strategic bombers while in Trieste for repairs). The second (and current one) is the Cavour, an aircraft carrier. Equipped with American-built planes based on a British design. So far, the ship is doing well...
  • In the beginning of May 2013, The Weather Channel expressed surprise at how quiet, tornado-wise, the weather had been and made a bit of their focus more on the upcoming 2013 hurricane season. Then came May 20, 2013...
  • During the fall of 1990, the Lacey V Murrow Memorial Bridge, which was scheduled for rehab & maintenance, sank into Lake Washington. The disaster was caused by someone having the simpler idea of cutting holes in the concrete pontoons and temporarily storing the hydrodemolition wastewater INSIDE them. Then on November 22-24, mother nature came along and poured in some rain and lake water through the holes, causing the pontoons to sink which cost the State of Washington $69 million in damages.
    • The reason why they put the hydrodemolition wastewater in the pontoons is because they were forbidden by Environmental Laws to dump it straight into the lake. Well, they ended up with a much bigger mess instead. Another possible reason is that they put too much confidence on the the weather conditions around Lake Washington which were usually calm all-year-round.
  • When Doug Walker announced that he'd be reviewing Adventure Time, he commented that he'd been told it was impossible to review a comedy like that, and that thinking like that was silly, he'd always have something to say and talk about. Naturally, once he started watching it, he was left speechless and uncertain of what to say.
  • In June 2006, the Secretary of State for Transport said: "Network Rail [...] does not believe that the railway sea defences in Dawlish are likely to fail in the foreseeable future". They failed in February 2014.
  • On the first day of the 1529 siege of Vienna, the Ottoman sultan Suleiman I sent a message to the city reading "I will have breakfast in Vienna's cathedral before two days". Two weeks later, he received a letter reading "Your breakfast is getting cold".
  • In possibly one of the most tragic circunstances when this trope is applied, a Dutch passanger jokes about in the case his plane dissapears, that how it will look like. Unfortunely for him and rest of the passangers of the plane, that flight was the Malaysian Arlines 17 flight who was shot down in Ukraine, killing everyone on board.
  • The Other Wiki once gave "The Weather In London" as an inappropriate title for a Wikipedia page. Naturally, people created the page and made it a redirect to London#Climate, leading to a very long deletion war before it was finally abandoned and the redirect kept.
  • On November 10, 2014 in the midst of public opinion of him reaching an all-time low due to resurfaced rape allegations. (Allegations that will not be discussed further on this page.) Bill Cosby launched an event on Twitter where he said: “Go ahead, meme me!” However, most of the captions talked about the rape allegations and it was quickly shut down. You can read more about it and see some of the captions here.

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