If you were a child in the 90s, you’ll have seen Anastasia, so you know who Rasputin was. What you might not know is that this guy was just as hard to kill in real life as he was in the movie. Now, since the eyewitness accounts vary, we can never be absolutely certain as to what happened, but the commonly accepted story is this: worried about Rasputin’s influence over Tsarina Alexandra, members of the extended Romanov family potted to off him using cyanide. However, after consuming the pastries and wine containing the poison (supposedly enough to kill five men), Rasputin was still kicking. So they shot him and left him for dead in the living room. But when they came back in to check on him, he was STILL alive. So they shot him again (either two or three more times). And bludgeoned him with a rubber clubbed. And bound him and wrapped him in a sheet and dumped him in the river. And when his body was pulled from the river two days later, it revealed that he had somehow managed to free one of his arms.
#2 Moon River
Li Bai was a major Chinese poet of the Tang dynasty poetry period, and his, er, poetic death is a well-known legend in Chinese culture. The story says that Li Bai drowned after falling out of his boat on the Yangtze River while trying to – get this – embrace. the reflection. of the moon. Yeah.
#3 Dinner OD
King Adolf Frederick of Sweden’s last meal consisted of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, kippers, and champagne, plus 14 servings of his favorite dessert, semla (buns in a bowl of warm milk.) We mention this because it was his last meal that killed him. He is known in Sweden as “the king who ate himself to death.”
#4 You Must Acquit
The case went something like this: Ohio, 1871. A man was shot and killed in a bar fight. The defendant’s attorney, Clement Vallandigham, argued that the victim had actually killed himself while trying to draw his pistol from his pocket while in a kneeling position. To prove the plausibility, he demonstrated this act to the jury, grabbing a gun he believed to be unloaded. He killed himself in the process, and in doing so, proved his own point. The defendant, Thomas McGehan, was acquitted.
#5 Death by Irony
Garry Hoy, a Toronto lawyer, had a habit of demonstrating the unbreakability of the glass in the Toronto-Dominion Centre by throwing himself against it. While the stunt proved successful every other time, this one particular day, the glass gave, and Hoy fell 24 stories to his death. It should be noted that the glass did not in fact break (well, except for when it hit the ground) but rather it popped out of its frame. So really, Hoy was right.
#6 Saw VIII
You may remember this one. Quick recap: pizza man, insane plot, bomb collar, bank robbery. Longer recap: in August 2003, Brian Douglas Wells, a pizza delivery man, was killed by a time bomb fastened around his neck after he was apprehended trying to rob a bank. Wells claimed that while he was on a delivery, three people forced a bomb-collar on him, gave him a homemade shotgun, and gave him a list of tasks to complete (the first of which was the bank robbery). However, it turns out that Wells was actually in on the plot, but he did think the bomb would be real. Insult to injury #1. Police figured out that the list of tasks Wells was given could not have been completed before the bomb went off anyway. Insult to injury #3. Oh and the whole purpose behind this half-baked, straight-outta-an-episode-of-Bones, scavenger-hunt-of-death was so a prostitute would have money to pay someone to kill her father so she could collect an inheritance. A) The amount Wells stole was nowhere need the cost of a hitman and B) the would-be inheritance was pretty much already gone. Insult to injury #3.
#7 Fatal Hilarity
Although it seems like a gimmick in a Comedy Central commercial, “death by laughter” is actually something that happens. One of the most well-known instances is that of Chrysuppus, a Greek philosopher who died c. 206 BC. (This is the guy you have to thank for all those logic questions on the SATs.) Story goes that a drunken Chryssuppus saw a donkey eating some figs, thought this was the most hilarious thing ever, and died laughing. That’s it. That’s the story.
#8 Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb
A few months after opening the tomb, Carnarvon died, most likely due to blood poisoning from a mosquito bite that became infected with erysipelas when the Lord cut the bite with a razor while shaving. So to be fair, this death has a legitimate explanation…but that explanation is so unusual that you have to wonder.
#9 Dance Till You Drop
Believe it or not, “dancing mania” is a thing. A thing that is not a Wii game. The Dancing Plague of 1518 occurred in what is now eastern France and is the most notable example of a form of mass hysteria in which people literally dance for literally days until they literally die.There is no agreed-upon medical explanation.
#10 My Goodness, My Guinness!
You might think a flood of beer sounds awesome. You’d be right in the literal sense, but a more apt adjective might be “terrifying.” In 1814, a huge vat of beer at the Meux and Company brewery in London ruptured, which cause a domino effect on the other vats. Over 323,000 gallons of beer flooded the brewery and surrounding areas, destroying two homes and claiming the lives of at least seven people.
#11 Sweet Catastrophe
On a similar note: the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. A huge molasses storage tank (’cause those exist) stationed in the North End of Boston burst, flooding the streets at a surprisingly rapid rate of about 35 mph, killing 21 people and injuring another 150.
#12 And You Thought The Superbowl Blackout Was Bad
In 1998, a football (read: soccer) match between two provinces in the Congo was interrupted by a lightning bolt that struck the pitch and killed all 11 members of one team. (Go ahead and reread that sentence just to make sure you got it before moving on. We’ll wait here.) The other teamed was left unscathed, though did suffer severe accusations of witchcraft (which is apparently a legit concern in central Africa.)
#13 Don’t You Know That You’re Toxic
In 1994, one Gloria Ramirez was admitted to Riverside General Hospital due to the effects of advanced cervical cancer, but she wasn’t the only one who would need medical attention; her skin was toxic. Staff noticed an oily sheen on Ramirez’s skin and a “fruity, garlic-like odor” coming from her mouth. The nurse who drew blood from Ramirez’s arm, noticed an “ammonia-like smell” coming from the tube. The nurse handed the bloody sample to a doctor who noticed particles in the blood. Then the nurse fainted. Then the doctor felt nauseated and light-headed, so she left the room. And then fainted at a nurse’s desk. A respiratory therapist who assisted in the ER also passed out. At that point, staff was ordered to evacuate all the ER patients. Despite efforts, Ramirez was pronounced dead from kidney failure.
So what was up with the infected staff? Well, here’s the theory: Ramirez may have been using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a solvent, for pain. The substance has a reported garlic-like taste. Scientists hypothesize that the oxygen administered my EMTs may have combined with the DMSO to create DMSO2, which is known to crystallize at room temperature, which may explain the particles the doctor spotted in the patient’s blood. Then, the electric shock from the defibrillator used in the ER may have convered the DMSO2 into DMSO4, a poisonous gas. Maybe.
#14 Trouble in Paradise
Two Canadian sisters were found dead in their hotel room while vacationing in Thailand. Poisoning was thought to be the cause, and after investigations, it was reported that the sisters had died of DEET poisoning after consuming a local cocktail made with the neurotoxic mosquito repellent. Neuro.Toxic. Mosquito. Repellent. In a drink.
But wait! It gets weirder. Autopsies were later conducted by Canadian officials, and they came to the conclusion that, while the sisters had died of poisoning, and while there was DEET in their systems, it was not in amounts large enough to be fatal. So that leaves us with….?
#15 Mystery on the Mountain
In February 1959, 10 ski hikers set out to climb Russia’s mountain Kholat Syakhl (which ironically means “Mountain of the Dead.” One was forced to turn back a day in due to illness. The other nine were never seen alive again.
Now, alright, you’re probably thinking “People dying while climbing a mountain in Russia in the middle of winter? How is that strange?” Alright, killjoys, here’s the weird stuff: when investigators found the mountaineers’ camp site, it was in shambles, and the tent had been torn open FROM THE INSIDE. Footprints leading away from the site were left by people who were barefoot, wearing socks, or wearing only one shoe. The first two bodies found were beneath a large tree about a mile from the camp, dressed only in underwear. Three more bodies were discovered at varying distance between the tree and the camp, and appeared to have died while attempting to return to the camp. One had a fractured skull.
It took two months before the other four bodies were found in a ravine a few hundred feet from the tree where the first two bodies were found. They were wrapped in pieces of clothing belonging to other members of the group, leading investigators to believe these four had died last and had removed clothing from those previously deceased. Oh yeah, and this clothing? It was RADIOACTIVE.
Though these four bodies showed no outwards signs of trauma (meaning no bruises or scratches or horrific festering wounds) they all died of trauma, most notably major chest fractures. Doctors said that the force required to cause such fractures would be comparable to the force of a car crash. Remember, no external damage. Oh yeah, and one woman was missing her tongue. HER TONGUE.
The final verdict was that the group members died due to “compelling natural forces,” which sounds an awful lot like “we have so freaking idea what the heck happened here.”