One of the many meme-able scenes from Avengers: Infinity War sees Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange look into the future 14,000,605 times in order to find every possible scenario in which the Avengers could face off against Thanos, and what the outcome would be. Based on what he saw, Strange told Iron Man that there was only one future where the heroes win—a fact that has sparked a number of fan theories as to what the situation might be. But have you ever wondered why Strange looked into the future that exact number of times? Was there a significance to that number? One Redditor thinks so, according to Screen Rant.
ArenLuxon took to Reddit to explain that Strange was likely using a specific combination of the characters surviving the battle against Thanos and surviving his snap. Using this formula, he would be looking at 21 characters in the film, including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Falcon, Spider-Man, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, Drax, Groot, Nebula, Star-Lord, Rocket, Shuri, Okoye, Gamora, and Vision. On top of that, Avengers: Endgame will include Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Ant-Man. This totals 24 heroes. Their fates are either living or dying, meaning two possible outcomes for each character.
The combinations would then be 2^24, or 16,777,216.
The theorist then considers Vision as uncountable here, as he died only because Thanos reversed time. This bring us to 2^23, or 8,388,608 combinations. However, it’s entirely possible that Vision could survive, so the Redditor puts him at a one in three chance of surviving. This would add another 5,592,405 futures, and our total is now 13,981,013 combinations, pretty close to 14,000,605.
If you’re questioning the legitimacy of this theory because of the other characters involved in the film, such as Loki, the theorist has an explanation for that, too. “Of course you can argue a bit about who is a 'hero' and who isn't. But it only matters who Strange considers to be heroes, since those are the futures he will watch,” they write. “If he doesn't consider someone important, he might not check how the future changes if they live or die.”
While we likely will never get an answer as to why Strange looked into the future this exact amount of times, this theory might be onto something. At the very least, it provides a talking point to argue about until Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26.
Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.
Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbeymovie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.
1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.
This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?
2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.
One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.
3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.
In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.
4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.
5. Michael Gregson is a spy.
Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.
6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.
When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.
7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.
In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.
8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.
Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.
9. Public tours keep the estate alive.
The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”
10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.
Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.
The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.
A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.
If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.
The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.