Let's *not* kill Hitler

27 November 2015 10:00

I’m assuming a number of my readers will be familiar with Godwin’s Law:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1

I’d like to propose an analog for time travel:

As a Science Fiction series progresses, the probability of a time travel plot approaches 1

Now, disregarding obvious examples such as Doctor Who and Outlander, I’ve found that most series I like that have at least some element of either Science Fiction or Fantasy have at least 1 episode that involves time travel. This post is not about the pros and cons of using such a plot, or the flaws that often seem to creep into them. I won’t even talk about whether or not time travel plots should or shouldn’t be used, as we all know I’ve used them myself.

Going back to Godwin’s Law. Suppose you could travel in time, how would you use this ability? For many people, the obvious answer would be to go back and kill Adolf Hitler.

Now, there have been quite some articles about why this is a bad idea, not to mention a share of comics that touch on the subject such as Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and Subnormality.

Conclusion: killing Hitler is probably not the most feasible of ideas.

But suppose you do have a time travel device, and want to give the world as we know it a big fuck you by making drastic changes to our history. Suppose you could do so by removing one person from history, terminator-style? Who would you kill and what would the consequences be?

I intend to write a series of posts exploring a number of persons of interest to be removed from history, focusing on their achievements, and what the lack of these achievements would mean for our world. The first of these posts should go live at the same time as this one, and each installment will be added to this post. Please note that I am an amateur historian at best, so don’t expect these analyses to come anywhere near academic level. I’m doing this for fun, and am mostly winging it.

Let’s kill…

  1. Napoleon Bonaparte